The Negombo Fish Market is interesting because it takes place right on the beach, fresh from fishing boats. Crowds of fishermen are seen untangling their fishing nets, playing with their kids, and stretching out miles of fish to dry in the sun on Negombo’s shore.
It was a Sunday when we visited so the fish market was ‘closed’ since Negombo’s predominant Catholic population goes to church on this day. The main gate was closed to show this, but it’s a beach so you can just walk around it and wander around anyway. You’ll see long blue sheds on the way to the shore where they store fishing baskets and the lot.
There are still little stalls outside the market like the one above that sell fish on Sundays, for about Rs. 200 per kilo.
The sight of huge kohulanu mats of dry fish laid out in the sun against the Negombo sea and sky is pretty cool. Bernard, a friendly fisherman we talked to, told us that some of the Muslim fishermen still function on Sundays, but Friday is a holiday for them and not for the Catholic ones, so the market’s got an all inclusive dynamic of its own.
He also talked about the drying process – they actually lay out the sardines and hours later come and flip every one of them over to dry the other side.
On a good day during season, a fisherman gets about Rs. 30,000 for his day’s catch. But it all depends – some folks don’t catch much so they don’t earn much. Fishing is huge in Negombo and one of the biggest vocations on the island, though their pay doesn’t correspond to the fact.
All along the coast you’ll see stretches of shark, tuna, sardine, mackerel and other fish. You also get live crabs for sale at the stalls outside the market. There are also rickety open sheds set up on the coast where the fishermen sort out their boats and fishing nets, and you might see their family relaxing here in the shade.
The Negombo fish market is a cool place to stop by if you’re in the city, and if you’re looking for fresh fish at easy rates.