Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fishing All Day

Silver Cove Channel; this is low tide and between the two light
colored areas, which is shoaling, at this low tide there was only
5 ft 8 inches
As you travel in and out the Silver Cove Channel here in Grand Bahama you marvel at the beauty of it, be it small in width, and draft it is a rather long inlet but large boats still enter. We did it with our 6 ft draft by means of an escort though the shallow parts and feel privileged about being on the inside. Several Dive boats, charter boats and party barge boats operate out of here. And then there is this local guy, Allen, who is a sole fisherman that swims nearly ever day from this channel for his fishing. He tows behind him while swimming a Styrofoam cooler with a lid that is balanced with a rock attached to a line hanging below the cooler so it doesn’t flip over in the ocean. Throwing his fish into the cooler till he’s done then returning to the channel to clean his fish. He sells to the locals’ right there in the channel or anybody that comes up to him in say a dinghy and if there are any fish left over he stops at a couple of houses while walking home, and they will always buy him out.
This is the cooler with a few lobster and the Mutton Snapper
at the start of the day

Ah the top fish is Hogfish our favorite. 
We tried to buy some fish the other day but he was all out. We are running low on fish and not having any luck out there ourselves, we asked him if he would like to go out fishing on our dinghy and show us a few spots and he could get his fish too. So we awake at 7 am for our 8am meeting at his place of business (the channel), he loaded his Styrofoam cooler, spear poles, fins and mask into our boat and we were off. He asked “How long can des boat go on da gas?” We’re good for the day I said. He took us to a reef not real far, only a couple of miles and not real far from shore. It really is a perfect spot not even that deep average depth was 15 ft. At a little after 9 we set anchor at a spot and both got into the water by 9:30, me with my full wet suit, and him with his swim suit. I tried to keep up with him and did at first. I took a couple of shots at fish and missed. Allen had given me one of his Hawaiian Sling rigs to hunt with. This is different that what I have, his spears when you shoot go free and really can travel; mine stays on your hand and really doesn’t travel far.  I was really too busy marveling at the reefs beauty to really give a crap about being bad at fishing. The sun was out the water temp was fine and I was flying over some of the best snorkeling I’ve done in years. The colorful fish and coral , this reef was alive and so close, Arline and Blue are as happy as could be in the dinghy. Allen got a nice Lobster right away and I missed another fish. Call it age call it what ever but I couldn’t hit the bottom and have enough time left for a shot without my head feeling like it would implode. Not sure what that is all about, but Allen had another lobster, a fish and we where moving the anchor and boat for the 3rd time by swimming it where he wanted to go next, now that was work, I’ve got a motor for this. Screw this and I jumped into the dinghy after just over an hour of swimming, fired up the outboard and our kill rate went way up.
He swam and we followed with the dinghy and his cooler, dodging booze cruise boats, dive boats, Glass bottom boats, Parasail boats and snorkel adventure boats. Fish after fish and it went on. Allen would swim over and say “Drop Anchor Here” He’d swim the area and bring the catch back to the boat. “Pull anchor”, we never stayed anchored for more than 10 minutes.

End of the day full,...

It got exciting when Allen popped his head out of the water with “My short spear” and then stuck his head back in the water and started swimming away from us like a torpedo with his empty hand in the air. Quickly his head came out and yelled “short spear” still with his hand in the air, his head goes back into the water. OKAY we got it, he’s missed a shot and lost one spear hunting a fish and he going after the fish swimming away fast. (Remember the different fishing rig)  I’ve never passed a baton at a relay race but this was from the dinghy to the swimmer. We pushed the dinghy close to him and Arline slapped the spear into his hand while still swimming fast, he loaded the spear dove under, we waited, and waited then he came up with a HUGE Mutton Snapper, with 2 spears in it. Holy crap what a fish, it just fit into his cooler.

Allen at his shop and out cut on the rocks
Allen cleaning fish and telling a life lesson to me about how happy
he was at his job and no stress.
Yeah I had a few for him, just recent learned too,..
Allen swan till 3PM with out a break. Arline said he was like the energizer bunny that just kept going and going. We didn’t think he was ever going to get out of the water. I think he swam 5 or 8 miles after looking at the chart of where we were. He filled his cooler with a lot of different fish and a lot of lobster, some of the fish we would never eat for different reasons. Now our dinghy will the newer 15 hp gets up on plane with 3 people no problem, I’ve tried with 4 people and not been able to. On the way home,… you got it,...almost a 4th person worth of fish. We got it up on plane but it was truly the max load for planning. We took the fish to Allen’s place of business, the channel, he divied up the fish into 2 piles and we shoved many back into his pile and cooler that we didn’t want then we paid him a fair amount for his time and catch. He pulled a piece of plywood he had stashed from the woods and cleaned the fish for us and then the people started to line up to buy his goods. From across the channel “Allen do you have any fish?” a lady yelled.

As we load the fish into Kasidah, Arline is cleaning and bagging, I’m hosing down the dinghy and I realize that we will be reminded of this day for a long time. There are little Styrofoam cooler pieces everywhere in the dinghy and as I try to wash they just float up and then back down when pumping the water out. It’s like a “Cat in the Hat” The Cat in the Hat comes Back, the one with the red stuff that get everywhere. 

I could go on about his life lessons and how you need to be honest with yourself and with god, that he told us during the rides or while cleaning the fish, or how great the day and fish were, but it would take a full 8 hours.  


Jules said...

That's cool. Sounded like a blast to do that all day.

Jon and Arline Libby said...

It was so coooool
Allen is the type of guy that will remember us and always be our friend.
He would talk about those people that play games to benefit themselves and how he loved being in the water because he was one with nature there. His stories sounded so familiar that we could relate with him very well. We learned an awful lot that day...............