Dominica Living - Fishing Dominica - Introduction
  Fishing Dominica




For the majority, fishing in Dominica is not looked upon as sport.  It is work... a means of financial sustenance for those that are "fisherfolk." 


Most generally, Dominica fishermen rely upon small boats ranging from hand crafted boats carved from a single tree trunk by the native Kalinago Indians to small row boats, to slightly larger boats powered by single, 40hp outboard motors or less. A few boats capable of supporting 100hp motors, are used.  Very few fisherman afford themselves the luxury and safety of 2 engines.


The smaller, man-powered boats are seen daily bobbing, most generally a quarter to half mile from shore.  Using hand lines, these fishermen seek anything that will take their bait from barracuda, garfish, wahoo, snapper and other. Other fishermen can be seen checking fish pots. Close to shore, others set and pull large nets to catch blue robins and other hand-sized fish that swim close to shore in large shoals.


What cannot be observed is those fisherman who have ventured 5 to 50+ miles off shore, in their single, 40 to 100hp singe engine boats. They are seeking big fish -- blue marlin and tuna.  Leaving before daybreak, these brave men take their passions "out there."  Out there... the term used when traveling so far, sometimes solo, in search of big fish. 


The locations for fishing at these distances is pre-determined by the fisherman's having placed a FAD (fish attraction device).  Marked only by a few floating buoys, these more determined fisherman rely  on handheld GPS satellite locaters to get them into the target area.  (► Learn More About Fads) Taking up to three + hours to travel to the furthest distances, the fisherman pass beyond cell phone range at the 15 mile mark. No one carries a marine radio. These men are truly at sea -- out of communication with those on land.


Once in the vicinity of the FAD the fisherman gets quickly to work.  Unwinding a light hand-line attached to a plastic squid-looking lure hiding a hook, the fisherman trolls for small bait tuna, bonitos, weighing anywhere from 1-5 pounds. After 1 or 2 are successfully in the  boat, fishing for marlin and tuna begins.


Rod and reel are seldom owned, let alone used by these fishermen who rely upon set hand lines.


First, a bait is secured alive to a very large hook that is attached to 100-300 pound test monofilament line.  The bait is then set at a depth ranging from near the surface to 200 meters; the is line freed to drift in the water, secured to a small buoy. Most often 1-6 lines are set in this manner, situated to drift with the current near to and past the FAD.


When a yellow-fin tuna or marlin takes the bait, the buoy, having been floating flat on the water surface, stands straight up signaling a fish is on. Observing the buoy's action, the fisherman maneuvers his boat to the line where the chore of carefully pulling the catch in, hand-over-hand, begins.  Most often this does does not occur quickly. The pulling process can be very risky as all of the line is brought into the boat, piling at the fisherman's feet.


Never wrapped around hands, the line is tightly grabbed as the pulling takes place.  Incredibly strong and fast, both large tuna and marlin have the ability to carry on a respectable struggle.  Extreme caution must be taken when a fish decides to make a run, resulting in the unstoppable zipping out in a matter of seconds, all the line gathered into the boat, passed the fisherman's' feet and back into the sea. Now, the pulling begins all over again.... the process repeating itself until the fish finally wanes enough to be killed by knife or harpoon and brought on to the boat.


Of all, the fish caught on Dominica, from the very small to the very large,  100% are used for food, some given away to friends & neighbors, the rest sold locally to villagers, restaurants, stores and markets.  There is no waste; Dominican's are experts at preparing fish in incredibly tasty way, served at practically every meal. 



Thanks to Tony Roudette (L) and Hilsford Vidal (R) for providing an ongoing abundance of memorable sea and  fishing experiences. Their friendship while introducing me to Dominica, sharing their fishing insights  and taking me  "out there" is a continuing privilege.




The clip below shows the basic, yet effective use of a large float attached to a 100 + yards of 200 lb test line and a single hook baited with a small bonito tuna (between 1/2 to 3 pounds.) 


Marlin - Approx 220 lbs - Caribbean Sea, 27 miles west of Dominica


A note of appreciation to those local fishermen from the villages of Coulibistrie and Mon Roche who keep their boats and nets on Batalie Beach.  Their willingness to accept me as their friend letting me observe and participate in their daily fishing and beach rituals, is an enriching experience and privilege...


Batalie Beach