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The day’s catch at Lellama

Written by
Swetha Rathnajothiee

Lellama is where throngs of fishermen in Negombo have been engaging in the fishing trade for years. In the early morning hours, the area is usually bustling with hundreds of fishermen unloading their boats. The market reflects a painting coming to life, as buyers and sellers hustle to get the freshest catch for the best price.

The quick movements of unloading the boats and hauling in the catch in the brisk twilight hours will leave one awe-struck. Piles and piles of freshly caught fish laid on the sand will grab one’s attention. The entire process unfolds in sequence similar to a drama. Fishermen unload the nets in a rhythmic pace and fill the cane baskets. These are then taken to the stalls where they are displayed with pride. Buyers surround the stalls, and bargaining takes place in high pitch volumes. 

Walking farther through Lellama, one can witness rows and rows of neatly displayed fish, their plump silvery bodies glimmering under the dim lights. From the Yellow Fin Tuna to Saalayo (Goldstripe Sardinella), to Hurullo (Trenched Sardinella), Red Snappers and thick cuts of Thalapath (Indo-Pacific sailfish) are displayed. Lobsters, squid, mud crabs, jumbo prawns and ribbonfish, entice an attractive price.

From the stalls, one can glimpse vistas of the tranquil Negombo Lagoon, with its quiet waters often disturbed by the frequent sails of boats, setting off to embark on another day’s hard work. There is also a vibrant line-up of boats docked near the lagoon. 

The Negombo Fish Market, located close to the Lellama is another buzzing place. Upon entering the market, you can catch a glimpse seafood of many varieties and sizes. Different stalls present various sizes of fish. Walking towards the shore, the scene of the dry fish trade comes to life with a character of its own. Fish are first sliced and dipped in barrels of salt water. They are then laid out to dry on coir nets. The vast stretch of the sandy beach is scattered with neat rows of fish, drying under the parching sun rays.

A drive to the Lellama and Negombo Fish Market will offer a world of experiences, and the opportunity to purchase some of the best and freshest seafood the topical seas have to offer.

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