When the inland reservoirs and tanks that irrigated the rice paddies were full, cultivators fished in them using bait and tackle and nets. When the reservoirs start to dry up during the dry seasons, cultivators caught fish using baskets made of sticks as shown in the illustration here from Robert Knox. This practice had continued for centuries and ancient inscriptions refer to the fishing tax levied on cultivators as ‘matera maji baka’.
The Govis who fished full time were known as Kevul and indeed there still are many Kevul Gam (Fisher villages) scattered throughout the interior of Sri Lanka. Many of these Kevul Gam and Kevul gederas have now become Kivul gam and Kivule Gedaras thus obscuring their fishing origins.
No. Until the advent of the Europeans and the inversion of the traditional social hierarchy there is no reference to a fishing caste in Sri Lankan history. Of the four fold cast groups; raja, Bamunu, Velenda, Govi, the last mentioned Govi group was responsible for producing all food including rice, vegetables, dairy products, fruits and fish.
Kshatriya Maha Sabha, Sri Lanka