For the majority, fishing in Dominica is not looked upon as
sport. It is work... a means of financial sustenance for
those that are "fisherfolk."
Most generally, Dominica fishermen rely upon small boats ranging
from hand crafted boats carved from a single tree trunk by the native
Kalinago Indians to small
row boats, to slightly larger boats powered by single, 40hp
outboard motors or less. A few boats capable of supporting 100hp
motors, are used. Very few fisherman afford themselves the
luxury and safety of 2 engines.
The smaller, man-powered boats are seen daily bobbing, most
quarter to half mile from shore. Using hand lines, these
fishermen seek anything that will take their bait from
barracuda, garfish, wahoo,
snapper and other. Other fishermen can be seen checking fish pots.
shore, others set and pull large nets to catch blue
robins and other hand-sized fish that swim close to shore in
What cannot be observed is those fisherman who have ventured 5
to 50+ miles off shore, in their single, 40 to 100hp singe
engine boats. They are seeking big fish -- blue marlin and tuna.
Leaving before daybreak, these brave men take their passions
"out there." Out there... the term used when
traveling so far, sometimes solo, in search of big fish.
The locations for fishing at these distances is
pre-determined by the fisherman's having placed a FAD (fish
attraction device). Marked only by a few floating buoys,
these more determined fisherman rely on handheld GPS satellite locaters
to get them into the target area.
(► Learn More About Fads)
Taking up to three + hours to travel to the furthest distances,
the fisherman pass beyond cell phone range at the 15 mile mark.
No one carries a marine radio. These men are truly at sea -- out of communication with
those on land.
Once in the vicinity of the FAD the fisherman gets quickly to
work. Unwinding a light hand-line attached to a plastic
squid-looking lure hiding a hook, the fisherman trolls for small bait
tuna, bonitos, weighing anywhere from 1-5 pounds. After 1 or 2
are successfully in the boat, fishing for marlin and tuna
Rod and reel are seldom owned, let alone used by these fishermen
who rely upon set
First, a bait is secured alive to a very large hook that is attached to
100-300 pound test
monofilament line. The bait is
then set at a depth ranging from near the surface to 200 meters; the is line freed to drift in the
water, secured to a small buoy. Most often 1-6 lines are
set in this manner, situated to drift with the current
near to and past the FAD.
When a yellow-fin tuna or marlin
takes the bait, the buoy, having been floating flat on the water surface, stands straight up signaling
a fish is on. Observing the buoy's action,
the fisherman maneuvers his boat to the line where the
chore of carefully pulling the catch in, hand-over-hand, begins.
Most often this does does not occur quickly. The pulling process can be very risky as all of the line
is brought into the boat, piling at the fisherman's feet.
Never wrapped around hands, the line is tightly grabbed as the pulling
Incredibly strong and fast, both large tuna and marlin have the ability
to carry on a respectable struggle. Extreme caution must be taken
when a fish decides to make a run, resulting in the unstoppable zipping
out in a matter of seconds, all the line
gathered into the boat, passed the fisherman's' feet and back
into the sea. Now, the pulling begins all over again.... the process
repeating itself until the
fish finally wanes enough to be killed by knife or harpoon and brought on
to the boat.
Of all, the fish caught on Dominica, from the very
small to the very large, 100% are used for food, some given away to friends & neighbors, the
rest sold locally to villagers, restaurants, stores and markets.
There is no waste; Dominican's are experts at preparing fish in incredibly tasty way, served at practically every
Tony Roudette (L) and Hilsford Vidal (R) for providing an ongoing abundance of memorable sea and
fishing experiences. Their friendship while introducing me to Dominica, sharing their fishing insights and taking
me "out there" is a continuing privilege.
The clip below shows
the basic, yet effective use of a large float attached to a 100 +
yards of 200 lb test line and a single hook baited with a small bonito tuna
(between 1/2 to 3 pounds.)
Marlin - Approx 220 lbs
Caribbean Sea, 27 miles west of Dominica
note of appreciation to those local fishermen from the villages of
Coulibistrie and Mon Roche who keep their boats and nets
on Batalie Beach. Their willingness to accept me
as their friend letting me observe and participate in
their daily fishing and beach rituals, is an enriching experience