In a blessing in disguise, the heavy rains in October gave rise to the peculiar phenomenon of pomfret fish swimming back from the sea towards a lake in Andhra Pradesh's Godavari district, enabling the local fishermen to catch them easily.
"Because of heavy rains, Upputeru was inundated with heavy inflows and a lot of 'chanduva' (Telugu for pomfrets) fish swam back into it from the sea, enabling the fishermen to net them and sell," Ganga, a local fish seller who tours villages with her wares in a basket, told IANS.
A natural outlet to Kolleru, a massive freshwater lake abutting West Godavari and Krishna districts, Upputeru is located between the deltas of Krishna and Godavari rivers and empties into the Bay of Bengal.
Selling pomfrets in a basket is not big deal but providing them in villages such as Seesali, Chinnapulleru, Kalla, Kallakuru and the vicinity assumes significance as these areas seldom see sea fish on sale.
All these villages regularly get a supply of freshwater fish, early in the mornings, hawked by basket-borne women.
"They can buy sea fish but for that they have to travel near to the coast. Sea fish is usually not hawked around in the bylanes of these villages," said Talluri Raj Kumar, a local YSRCP leader and an aquaculture farmer.
Pomfrets, small sharks and other saltwater fish are easily available by the beach in places such as Perupalem and other coastal villages in this district with a coastline of 19 km.
The pomfrets which Ganga brought were unusually bigger than what were generally available in the supermarkets of big cities such as Hyderabad or Bengaluru.
"I loved the pomfrets. My grandmother cooked 'chepala pulusu' (fish curry) and also fried them in Andhra style, matching local Godavari cuisine," said Amulya Jacinth, a Class 5 student who lives in Bengaluru but currently spending time at her grandmother's home as she came here before the Covid lockdown.
The pomfret party did not last long though. Ganga brought them only twice and now they are not available any more.
Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Fisheries Department had no idea about the brief pomfrets availability in these villages.
"We have no idea about pomfrets swimming back into the Upputeru and being caught and sold by the fishermen," said Fisheries Commissioner K. Kannababu.
Though short-lived, pomfret, an international delicacy whose fillets are popular in most of the luxurious five star hotels across the world, did come as a blessing in disguise to the area hit by devastating rains and floods.