Only until recently Lao farmer had abundant stock of river fishes in front of his home in Muang Ngoi. Many boats parked in a small cove suggest lots of people still rely on free protein - but it is now a challenge to bring home full net of river shrimp, fishes and edible water insects. Times have changed, remotest streams have been overexploited and nearly irreparably destroyed with 'unsustainable' fishing practices, mainly with electrocuting whole section of a water, or dynamiting it to get most desired prey.
You cannot be surprised that fish cooked in Muang Ngoi restaurants is one brought from Vietnamese fish farms. Local fish - it's definitely more expensive one.
However... one can try his luck with rod and bait. If nothing else, it's timeless people's favourite pass time in some of Lao most supreme landscapes. We're still essentially collectors and gatherers, after all. For about 20 USD per day you can get a fisherman with boat to take you to more remote upstream sections of Nam Ou, they know where to go. It's a whole day wonderfully spent being laid back and listening to sound of wildlife, which gets only roughly interrupted by local or tourist boat once or twice per hour.
Fisherman will get something for you from the river and prepare the lunch at some remote shore so whether you catch anything or not, you won't be hungry. Some little things out of rivers are lot more tasty than old big fat raised fishes from farms.
We took the path past the football field and soon caught up with two ladies laden with goods for their village. We struck up a very basic conversation with them by hand signals and a few words that i had picked up and in the end we went with them to their village, probably a two hour walk. The village had a homestay for trekkers but we had no bags with us so we enjoyed a cool drink and fried rice. For the life of me i cannot exactly remember the name of the village but it is shown on local photocopied maps you can buy in Muang Ngoi. Actually i think the village we trekked to was called Huay Bo. We actually trekked to 3 villages when we were there, all very similar. Most villages are Lao and Khamu, but in this one there certainly seemed to be a lot of drunk people, perhaps they were celebrating something.
We hiked several days, just take the path out of the village which passes the football field and continue, just remember the way back as there are many different branches to take. We saw several people trekking with guides but this is probably not necessary if you are adventurous. You will cross rivers, come across villagers, and plenty caves and beautiful scenery. If you stick to the main path you will reach a check point by some caves where you have to pay a small fee to continue. A few metres after the checkpoint some industrious Lao lady has set up a hut selling meals and drinks. Lovely to sit there a while.