I am always fascinated by the different methods and styles of fishing when I am abroad. From the large commercial fleets with big boats, hydraulic power and large nets, all the way down to the simplest more traditional forms of fishing, such as spear or even, say,  ‘snorkel fishing’? Regardless of where I go in the world, the one thing that all types have in common are the people, they are mostly all men.  The tides here are very big just like Alaska so we found many men fishing off the beach.

Zanzibar is a beautiful island just off the coast of Tanzania. Almost all the fish here are caught by subsistence fishermen and provide an important food and income source for local villages. Men fish with nets, hand lines, traps, spears and even snorkels. If woman are involved they sweep the beaches for shellfish, crabs, dry seaweed and octopuses but that seems to be the extent of their participation. Most boats used are canoes and there are very few that have motors.

Fishing styles in Zanzibar is anything but familiar. Mem and I decided to test ourselves a bit and see how we fared in the more ‘traditional’ styles of fishing methods. So we took to the beaches in the morning and came across some unusual finds.

Photo-op with the ‘Snorkel Fisherman’

Memry’s puzzled look says it all

I have to say, this fisherman was my favorite. Memry’s face says it all. He had barnacles all over his mask and sand in his snorkel. I think we were both equally confused by one another. We found this man swimming around catching fish with his hands. Can’t imagine that being very easy. I think I’d rather use a spear.

A Bear Grylls Moment

The Fishermen of Zanzibar

When it came my turn to try I caught more than just an octopus, I ended up spearing an actual fish! yes I real live fish swimming in the water. I had no idea it would be that easy. Okay so maybe the fish was only 1.5 inches in length, but still, it was definitely a Bear Grylls moment.

Her Colors

Woman with Octopus

A Lesson in Speer Fishing

The octopus are found in holes with in the rocks.

Out to Sea in a Mango Tree

Local fisherman picks up my sister and I in his canoe that he carved out of a mango tree

The boat was made for one person, maybe two. But now it had three of us in it and it was leaking in water fast. Memry and I had expensive cameras with us in a leaky one person canoe, and with a fisherman who spoke not more than a few words of English, made it all the more comical. We finally signaled him to take us back in before things really got out of control.

Fishing in the Tropics


Puffer Fish!

And colors of the sea

The Traditional Fishing Boat of Zanzibar

Carved out of a mango tree

  1. Sierra Anderson: VIDEO: How To Spear Fish

    [...] I’ve always wanted to be able to spear a fish like Bear Grysl. Now I have and here is the proof. While in Zanzibar my mom, sister, and I went spear fishing along the beach. Met up with some locals who were nice enough to give me a try. Big thanks to my mother for holding the camera. You can read more about it on my previous post here: Speer Fishing in Zanzibar [...]

  2. Katie Wilmes

    Wow Sierra! You are one incredible, intriguing, unique……and WELL-TRAVELED lady!! You rock! Seriously, I can’t believe I’m friends with someone who in my opinion deserves celebrity status!

  3. Melinda Moser

    Love the pics they are beautiful as always. Glad to see you enjoying yourself.


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