By Angel Nuñez
My list of things that we USED TO do so differently in San Pedro is quite long and many of them have to do with food, but trust me there is more to it than food. There are other customs like fishing or doing certain chores like cooking and even manner of dancing. Well you know, dancing is an ever changing art. This is how I remember some of them.
TROLLING: When you talk about trolling today you are talking about navigating slowly with your skiff and dragging behind you one or two fishing lines. Well, trolling is trolling and won’t change but what if you did not have a skiff. Back then we used to go trolling with sailing boats. This was the perfect speed for trolling and when you had a barracuda or tarpon on your line, you simply turned into the wind direction and let your sails flap back and forth while you fought with your catch. Now here is another way of trolling especially for children and for small barracuda. This was done with a dory and paddle. Young boys would paddle back and forth in the lagoon where we caught small barracuda weighing about four to six pounds. These were called “Tzut” and the large ones were called “picuda”.
HANDLINE FIHING: Tourist guides, professional anglers and even amateur fisher folks today can only do so with expensive rod and reels. Give them a hand fishing line and see what they would do with it. I think I can safely say I would be able to handle it because I learned fishing with hand lines. There are only a few things that you have to take into consideration. First you have to learn to cast your line and try to drop your hook and bait right on the spot without entangling it into the mangroves. Secondly when pulling in your line with your catch, you have to try for it not to be entangled and knotted into one mess. Trust me this happened frequently much to the chagrin of the young and inexperienced fisherman.
Before the introduction of the nylon fishing line there were the cotton lines. It came in different grades or thicknesses for different weights of fish. To fish for barracuda we used a thick line almost one eighth of an inch in diameter. Ask me about the line cutting your hand. That happened when the catch was very large and heavy and it gave you a hard fight. If the fish pulled the line out and you’re holding on too firmly, it would literally cut your hand or fingers.
BUOY FIHING: For those of you who do not know what is a buoy, let me quickly say that it is an object, any shape or size that will remain afloat in the sea. We USED TO GO beachcombing for buoys made of plastic, glass or aluminum. They were plentiful along our beaches of Ambergris Caye. My father said they were used by fishermen in Japan or China on their seine nets and became loose and drifted to our shores. Truth or myth, my dad used to fabricate some incredible stories and the funny thing is that I believed them all.
Anyway, how is a buoy used in fishing? When fishing for sharks, you set an anchor using a rock or real anchor and tie a buoy to it. From the floating buoy you set your line with a large hook with a good fish head or half a fish as bait. When a shark bites on the bait and becomes hooked, it will fight itself to death or almost to death. When a fisherman checks on his line the following day, he would only have to finish off by clubbing the almost dead victim and pull it aboard. Easy fishing technique with no patience required, no danger, no effort.
And there you have it folks. This is how differently we USED TO DO things in San Pedro twenty five years ago or better said, a long time ago.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography –Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
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