Dominica Living - Fishing Dominica - FADS, Pots & Nets
  Fishing Dominica

FADS, Pots & Nets


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 "Fish 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 FAD's anchor. 


When finished, the FAD 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 hook, lines.


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 more.




Fishing With Nets

Fisherman also 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.


The technique 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.


The fishermen 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 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.