For hundreds of years, fishermen in Taiwan have been using a technique called fire fishing to catch sardines. The technique involves lighting bamboo sticks on fire and holding them over the sides of their fishing boats. Although it may sound a bit odd, the act of fire fishing is just as visually stimulating as it is mind-boggling.
The trick to fire fishing is using sulphuric soil on the ends of the bamboo. That produces an epic spectacle that sends the sardines jumping toward the fishermen’s nets without the use of bait or fishing poles.
In Taiwan, sardine season only lasts from May to July, so job security is only seasonal. For that reason, interest in fishing for sardines has diminished over the years. There were once over 300 sardine boats practising fire fishing, but now there are only three.
On average, a fire fisherman can catch upwards of three or four tons of sardines per trip and can make around $4,500 a night.