On November, 26 2000 I took a trip to the Rio Tarma to do some collecting. The collecting location was near the confluence of the Rio Tarma with the Rio Tuy between the towns of Nueva Cua and Mendova on the road that runs west from the town of Ocumare del Tuy. I'll write more about this very successful trip later (Ancistrus brevifilis, Chaetostoma, Rineloricaria, Panaque, Pimelodella, and Diamond tetras to name a few). When we arrived we watched two young men from the bridge. Due to the heavy vegetation along the banks we couldn't see what they were doing, but we did see one walk to a bucket with a Hypostomus species in his hand. Later, as we collected the river, we came across these two guys again and I realized they were fishing for Hypostomus. I watched up close for a while and this was the technique they used.
They found holes in the muddy bank six inches to a foot below the river's water level. One guy blocked the hole with his hand while the second started building a dam out of mud taken from around the hole. Eventually the dam around the hole was higher than the water level and thus the hole was cut off from the river. The hole was also substantially larger having grown from a 3-4 inch opening to a 8-10 inch opening. Then the guy that built the dam would use a cup to start scooping out the water from the hole. The second guy stood by with a sharpened stick that looked like an arrow without feathers.
When the water was low enough in the hole the Hypostomus would make a run for it. However, he was cut off by the dam and thus could be speared by the waiting fisherman. In a few cases the Hypostomus never made a run for it. The fishermen would then keep digging out the hole until it as big enough to reach into and pull the fish out. This method, although labor intensive, certainly could work just as well for taking live Hypostomus and other loricariids that live in holes in the muddy banks.
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