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Fishing in Istanbul

I miss fishing. For the most part there are only two things that I regret about traveling: That I can seldom go fishing. That I can seldom go hunting. Fishing gear is too cumbersome to carry, and the few times that I would actually use it would not justify its continued presence, and hunting gear [...]

I miss fishing.

For the most part there are only two things that I regret about traveling:

That I can seldom go fishing.

That I can seldom go hunting.

Fishing gear is too cumbersome to carry, and the few times that I would actually use it would not justify its continued presence, and hunting gear is obviously out of the question. I am also not the kind of fellow who would pay an exorbitant amount of money to do either of these activities in organized tours.

So I look for other people hunting or fishing and try to get them to let me come along.

It seldom works out, but shall never stop trying.

Along the Galata bridge that spans the Golden Horn hundreds of fishermen stand eave to eave with lines hanging down into the river. Each time I pass over this bridge I walk real slow and try to find a fisherman willing to let me man his pole for a turn. I make eye contact, smile, and when I encounter a friendly face I stop for a brief chat.

Usually this just consists of me pointing and pantomiming like an idiot and the fisherman laughing at me. I get a kick out of simple things, and a grown man getting excited about a bucket full of chubs, some chopped bait, and a few knots is perhaps a ridiculous sight to behold anywhere in the world.

But I like fishing.

I met a smiling Turk on the bridge a few days ago who tolerated my presence as I watched him rig his line. These Istanbul fishermen do not mess around when it comes to increasing their chances of catching fish: they tie approximately ten evenly dispersed and baited hooks going down the length of the submerged portion of the line. I crouched on my hunches as I talked with my hands and eyes about fishing with the fisherman. We could not figure out a word either of us said, but we understood what we were talking about.

Fishing is an international language.


Hundreds of fishermen line both sides of the Galata Bridge in Istanbul all day long. I have never noticed anyone catching anything.


Bait, minnows or chubs, used to fish in Turkey.


Bait bucket. I was looking for the fish that they caught in these buckets, but could not find any. Either the fishermen have a very quick transition period between catching a fish and getting it to a market, or nobody is catching anything. From the well worn looks of a lot of these fishermen, my assumption is the former.


Bait and a fishing pole holder.


Fishing pole holder for fishing over a bridge. This simple wooden cut-out holds the pole evenly so the fisherman can rest in between casts.

Fishing in Turkey

Anatolia fishing
Fishing in Turkey

Fishermen, Gear, Bait, and a Bridge in Istanbul

Filed under: Fishing, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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5 comments… add one

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  • lake conroe fishing guides February 19, 2010, 1:19 am

    Wow that's pretty funny, all those fisherman and despite all that effort there are no fish being caught, well I guess they're enjoying the weather. =P

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  • Reggie Wallace November 22, 2010, 7:06 pm

    I think that is one of the oddest fishing rod holders that I have ever seen? lol Amazing that no one is catching anything with hundreds of fishermen there, maybe the bridge is over fished? Or maybe a school of fish come through every once in a while and everyone hooks up 🙂

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com November 23, 2010, 1:49 pm

      It is my impression that people just fish for fun haha. Someone tried to tell me that they are really fishing for the little fish that I called bait, but I doubt it.

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      • Moe April 21, 2013, 6:01 pm

        It is true!

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  • Moe April 21, 2013, 6:01 pm

    I hate to break it to you bro, but what you think is bait is actually what they catch!

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