Fishpen -- by Kai

"Knock, Knock, Knock!"
Someone rapped on the side of the hull.
I poked my head outside the hatch to see Gaston outside on his small fishing boat.
"Bonjour, Kai...You come fish pen!" he called.
I instantly responded, "sure...let me get my shoes, is it ok if my dad comes too?"
"Yes! It okay!"
Gaston says everything like he's shouting but he's really nice.
I raced below to get my shoes and ask my dad if he wanted to come and in a few minutes we were in Gaston's boat and racing towards the fish pens.

The fish pens are one of Gaston's many ways of catching fish.

We were still inside the lagoon and anchored the boat by tying it up to one of the many pieces of re-bar that were sticking up out of the sand in fairly shallow ( maybe five feet) water.
Strung up between the re-bar, underwater, are nets.
The nets form  a large "V" with two little bulges near the bottom part of the "V" making it look more like a heart than a "V" but I cant draw it, so you will have to imagine.

Gaston jumped in the water with a big metal basket that looks kind of like a cylandar.
He started scaring all the fish into one corner of the net by slapping the water and splashing and then he dipped the basket under water and  scooped up the fish. There was a shark in there too and he just grabbed it by the tail and chucked it outside the net.
If the sharks are too big to toss, then he will spear them with a long javeline and kill them.
Once he had the fish in the basket he would hand it up to my dad, who hauled it aboard and dumped it out on the bottom of the boat.
My dad is a pretty big guy but it took all his strength to lift the basket of fish out of the water and into the boat.
They did this over and over. There were thirty to fifty fish in each load!
Bumphead parrot fish, snapper, bigeyes, beams,long face Emporer, Blue Trevally, scabs, bonefish, acute jawed mullets, greasy groupers, roving coral groupers, bullet head parrot fish...I saw so many I lost track.

After a few more baskets, we went to shore to unload. Gaston got a snow shovel and started throwing fish out of the boat onto the concrete floor of the fish shack while we sorted them into piles. Parrot fish on one side, everything else on the other.
When that was all done, we got foot long needles and some long cords and started sewing fish together-four to a cord. Gaston told us this was called making fish "packets" and this is how they sell them to the supply boat in return for food and building materials.

It took all day but when it was finally finished and all the fish ready to go for market, we went back to Gaston's house and played a game of patonk (like bocce), while Valentine and my mother and sister make dinner.
Everything is cooked outside, in a fire or on a grill.
We always eat rice and at least two kinds of fish and coconut bread.
When the dinner is over, we help gather the water in buckets to do the dishes and then finally sit back to relax after the long day.
Sometimes we play music, or ukelele or just look at the stars and poke at the huge fire Gaston always builds.

This is a typical day, here in Anse Amyot.

1 comment:

  1. a different type of fishing for you guys! sounds so incredible! i wish i was there to experience one of those days with y'all! you describe it so well my friend! you paint a beautiful and complete picture of it!

    love ya and miss brother!!