Fish Attraction Device ~ FAD
In some of the photos (right) there is a pile of yellow rope along with a couple of blue tarps piled on Dominica's west coast's Batalie Beach, located near Salisbury. Tony and the guys are building a
Attraction Device" or FAD.
The FAD works by providing cover for small fish in the tarp area... bigger fish are attracted to the smaller fish... yet bigger fish are attracted to those fish, etc... the end result being really big fish, tuna,
marlin, and such, being attractyed into the area to feed... the fishermen fish for the big fish.
The FAD is constructed from a
mile or more of rope consisting of 8 strands of yellow plastic bailing twine spliced together; the tarps are tied near the top (surface) end while, at the bottom end, 2
strategically placed lengths of pipe and a tire are secured within a half-barrel full of concrete... the
the will be loaded on to the boat and transported 4 to 50 miles out to sea. Once at the drop location
(carefully recorded on a GPS device), large floats are
attached to the surface end of the rope several feet above
the tarps, after which the chore of letting the rope out
begins... ending with the anchor being shoved over-board.
(Photos of the anchor being given the heave ho and
the rope following are provided in the slide show.)
FADs are often
placed in waters a mile or more deep -- the fishermen
take in consideration the depth and current and the
associated angle needed for the floats to remain on the
surface... too short
of rope and the FAD is gone forever, the buoys & tarp
dragged far beneath water making the attraction device
impossible to locate.
Once the FAD
is set, it is allowed to attract fish for a few weeks
before fishermen journey back "out there" to try
their luck and skill through the use of hand set, single
Also shown in
the above photo group, my son, Alden, is seen catching barracuda under the watchful tutelage of Hilsford. This day was memorable, not only for the fishing but for the rain as, but for the few minutes when I snapped
these pictures, it rained buckets... and then a couple of tubs full
Fishing With Nets
frequently use huge nets dropped and stretched from small,
hand-crafted boats near the shore to catch small schooling
fish, most often ballyhoo and blue robins.
The nets are anywhere from 100 to 300 yards long and up to
50 yards tall. There are also some images of Batalie
Beach fishermen casting.
is simple... a fisherman dons a snorkel and mask and swims
along the shore, up to 500 feet out, searching
for passing schools of desired fish. Once a school is
spotted, the fishermen get ahead of the fish, row out,
leaving one end of the net on shore, while dropping
the remainder from the boat in a wide arching, slowly
closing circle around the unsuspecting fish. Slowly,
the fishermen begin to tighten the circle by pulling
the net to shore... smaller and smaller until men, boat, net
and fish are all neatly in a small area on the beach. The
fish finally fully trapped are hauled on to shore, sorted and
sold for food.
seen in the slide show images above, have boat huts situated on
nearby Batalie Beach. This is where they store their boats and related gear.
Similar scenes take place at dozens of locations along Dominica's shoreline each early morning.
Fish Pots (Traps)
From any vantage point near Dominica's
coast line, one can easily spot a host of small white objects floating
from between 50 to 400 yards off shore. Most generally, these
floats are empty bleach jugs or other small plastic bottles. Tied to
lengths of twine or small sized ropes, they mark the location of
someone's fishpot (trap).
Made from chicken wire tactfully
stretched over a wooden frame built from water resistant tree limbs, the
pots are created to let fish wander in, but not out. Naturally
light weight, 2-4 strategically attached stones help the pot sink
when pushed overboard.
Resting on the ocean bottom at
depths ranging from 20 to 100 feet, sometimes more, the traps are baited with
old loaves of locally made bread, split coconuts, old fruit and other
items slow to decompose while attracting fish: the pots are checked
every 1 to 4 weeks.
The pots are
retrieved by either pulling up the line that is attached to the float
marker or, a heavier line with a large hook is dropped down to snag it.
Once the trap is hauled on to the boat a small door is opened and
a hoe-like fashioned stick is used to pull the fish toward the opening
where they can be grabbed and placed in a bucket. Caution is taken
with captured sea snakes and eels... some saved for selling, others
tossed overboard. Once the catch has been removed, the pot is again
baited and sent back down to work. The catch is taken to shore
where it is sold almost immediately from the beach or taken into local
villages and sold along the streets.