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A Wealthy Living Lagoon in Ambergris Caye

By Angel Nuñez
Today we know that this body of water right behind the town of San Pedro is void of fishes and has no economic benefits. The only purpose of this so called lagoon is for boat navigation from the sea on the east of the island to the west or back side of the island. There is no swimming, no hand line fishing, no fish traps, no casting of nets- nothing.

Not so years ago in San Pedro. In this lagoon there are several sink holes (posas) where fishing was frequent and exciting.  Some of the largest black snappers and even Jew fish were caught with hand line in these sink holes. Most folks disliked fishing there due to the fact that if a fish did not bite the hook would get caught on some rock or coral on the edge of the sink hole. That meant that you had to forcibly break the line and you lost several yards of your precious line and the hook.

However the excellent prospects of catching some large snappers 40 inches large weighing some forty to 50 pounds attracted many of us to go fishing right there. Besides it was so close that all that was required was a small dory and a paddle and, of course, an anchor because the seabed is rocky and it was impossible to set a pole in the seabed. “What is the big deal?” you might ask. Well a snapper that big would give you bragging rights and of course a lot of fish to sell in chunks at ten cent per pound. “And again what is the big deal?” you might ask.  Well, if a fish that big netted you some three or four dollars weren’t you going to be happy if a can of milk cost ten cents, flour six cents, beans 12 cents, and a gallon of gasoline cost only 30 cents? Now you know why it was a big deal, and stop asking those silly questions!

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Lagoon Side

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Lagoon Side

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Lagoon Side

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Lagoon Side -Net Fishing

So on any given day you might have seen two or three small dories with adults or children casting fishing lines at these sink holes in the lagoon right behind San Pedro. Now occasionally you would see a large canoe with two or three men casting one of those long seine nets in the lagoon. The entire village would soon know that in a short while there would be lots of bone fish or mullets on sale at one of the short jetties at the edge of the lagoon. Fishermen knew that a large school of mullets or bone fish had come down to feed in the lagoon. “And how would they know?” you might ask. It is called ‘tailing’.  When fish are feeding they would be on the surface of the water so that their tails or fins would be seen slightly out of the sea. The fishermen encircled this school of fish with their net and then proceeded to pull in the net making it smaller every time until they had them covered in a small piece of net and drawn inside the boat. The joy of seeing up to 200 bone fish all flapping their tails inside the boat and gasping for air! The joy of the villagers who knew they would be able to purchase their prized fish that would last for several days also! And finally the joy of the fishermen who knew that their sales would be good, not only good but excellent. When other fish were selling two for five cents, a mullet sold for ten cents, yes ten cents. A bone fish sold for ten cents live or fifteen cents smoked and ready for the famous fish balls or “tortas de macabi”.

San Pedro, Ambergris Caye Lagoon Side

Now I will tell you why all the excitement and the many canoes in the lagoon on a particular day.  It was a large mullet catch. Don’t know if you all know but mullets have the ability to shoot out of the water for some ten feet must like the dolphins do. When encircled and trapped in a seine net, the mullets sense danger and will shoot or fly high over the net. So we used to set our boats alongside the net so that the mullets would fall right into our boats. Bingo! Any mullets that fell in our dories were ours to keep. Some lucky folks at times would catch more mullets than the actual fishermen who cast the net. “And why were they allowed to keep what was not theirs?” someone might ask. Well, because that was the custom and please stop asking any more silly questions as this was our custom years ago in San Pedro.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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