This morning my son held cutlery in his hand and announced that he saw the future, and that his future involved catching a barracuda. Yesterday, I found a hair ball on the floor of our catamaran. When I picked it up with some disgust, Paul saw potential. “I want that,” he said.
Paul is nine years old. What has come over him? And, why is he getting up before sunrise?
It boils down to an obsession with fish, and making his own fishing lures.
When I ask him about his newfound interest in fishing, Paul cannot really explain it. But, when pressed, he says, “I like to see my fish.”
Up to this point we have been catching a lot of weeds, but Paul has been reading “The Cruiser’s Handbook to Fishing”. The book has been a game changer.
With help from this handbook, Paul landed a barracuda.
We considered releasing the barracuda but my kids and husband were keen to eat the fish.
Paul practiced preparing the fish and looked quite professional. As I read him step-by-step instructions from our book, it seemed a good time to score mom points by talking about respect for animals as well as fish biology.
The barracuda was small enough that I wasn’t concerned about ciguatera. I barbecued the fish and was told that it was quite tasty.
Catching the barracuda has spurred Paul to learn more. When he is not fishing, he is reading about fishing. He enjoys learning about the best lures and the quality of the meat. He aspires to own a buck tail lure, which looks like a bit of long fluff on the end of a hook.
His enthusiasm for fishing is contagious, which is why all four of our kids loaded into our dinghy at dawn in pursuit of fish. You wouldn’t know it from the photo but it was controlled mayhem.
Here in Bequia, Paul approached local fishermen and other cruisers to learn more about lures and fishing. That is how we came to meet Shiv.
Here is a picture of Shiv along with the boat that he made himself. Bequia is known for its impressive boat building.
Shiv is a taxi driver in the tourist season and a fisherman when business is slow. He is not a tour guide but offered to take Paul fishing “for the pleasure of it.”
A few days later, we met Shiv at the Bequia dinghy dock at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Paul was already fishing from the dock as he sat waiting for Shiv to arrive.
We got in Shiv’s boat. Paul needed no invitation. At first, we trolled.
Shiv had forgotten the tether for his fishing pole. I offered to hold his fishing rod while we trolled and he steered the boat. The look of trepidation on his face was clear. I held his fishing rod with a death grip, knowing that it represented part of Shiv’s livelihood.
We trolled in the boat for probably an hour. We chatted and looked for birds, which might have indicated the presence of fish. When trolling bore no results, Shiv decided we should fish closer to shore.
We reeled in the trolling lines and Shiv’s boat took off. I clutched the side of the boat and dug my feet into the floorboards.
Shiv was used to the movement of the boat and managed to take cell phone calls as he shot across the waves. As we moved further out into the open water, it felt as if we were riding a roller coaster. The boat went up, up, up and then hurtled down the other side of the waves. Paul smiled the entire time.
Eventually, we stopped. Shiv setup Paul’s fishing gear, Bequian style. That is, he put the weight at the bottom of the line with two hooks and some bait hanging above the weight. Shiv preferred to fish with a hand line because he said he liked to feel the immediate contact with the fish. We sat. We sat. Talking didn’t seem to be cool as both Shiv and Paul sat transfixed with fishing.
Many small fish were caught. Here is the raw, uncut video I took as a fish was brought in.
Shiv said the small fish were good for eating, and his eyes lit up as he talked about how to cook the fish.
As the sunlight started to fade, Shiv moved his boat to another fishing spot. Soon, Shiv caught something and his face visibly knotted. “That is a very bad fish,” he said. Grabbing a flashlight, we could see a shiny fleshy mass curled around his line. It looked like a slithering ball with a long tail. It was an eel. I will spare you the details as to what transpired next but it basically involved a hammer, and a nasty end for the eel.
Shiv said that eels can have a nasty bite. He knew one fisherman who tossed an eel into his boat, mistaking it for a fish. The fisherman ended up jumping out of his boat to escape the eel.
We returned to the dock in the dark. Shiv was met by a friend. For him, the night was just beginning. But, for us, it was a fantastic finish to a great night of fishing in Bequia.
Note: I started this blog post in June 2017 when we were in Bequia, which is a Caribbean island and part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are still anchored in Grenada, staying out of harm’s way for hurricane season.