Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning How to Fill Our Nets from the Local Fishermen

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Learning How to Fill Our Nets from the Local Fishermen

Article excerpt

It looked so easy. Every morning, just after dawn, we would watch the fishermen launch their cast nets like shimmering blue parachutes that the weights would sink to the bottom of the canal.

My husband, Robert, and I live aboard our 37-foot Brown Searunner trimaran with sons, Zoltan (age two) and Ian (nine months). We were boatyard bound at Bob and Annie's Marine Railway on Pine Island in Florida repairing our rudder, skeg, and centerboard, which a nasty 40-knot squall had helped shatter just after Christmas.

Since the boys keep fishermen's hours, we were always on deck for the morning cast session. The boys were captivated by this spectacle and would dance with glee when the "fishee-men" hauled in their catch of jacks or mullet.

Zoli would take a little gear net from his bunk and pitch it across the deck in imitation after the men had gone. "See, I catch da fishee!"

"Yeah, da fishee-men!" Zoli would squeal as they arrived the next morning. After a few days of this we began to receive a pail of fish every day or so. I joked that I didn't need a hook to catch fish, all I needed was a toddler who worshiped the decks the "fishee-men" walked on.

"Don't let anyone around here catch him {Zoltan} saying that," a man at the general store warned one day. "People around here don't like the fishermen much. They just enacted a net ban on gill netters because there weren't enough fish to go around for the sport fishermen. Now they don't like the cast netters because they think they're stripping the canals."

I knew about the net ban. I also had been told that the gill netters had turned to cast netting and would soon be going after shrimp in an effort to make up for the lost revenues.

My problem is that I come from a different world than those who find the fishermen offensive.

When I was a little girl growing up in New York City, my family would go on vacation to Long Beach Island in New Jersey where my Great Uncle Peter (who bore a striking resemblance to John Wayne) would take me fishing.

Every morning he would wake me while it was still dark out and we would walk the block to the beach to go surf casting with all the "old timers. …

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