A fish trap in hand – A dinner plan doesn’t always get the results you want
One of the most satisfying feelings when aboard your boat is to catch a fish yourself and have it for dinner. But catching a fish isn’t always easy.
One of the must-do anchorages on a Virgin Islands charter is to anchor in the Bight at Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands and snorkel at the caves nearby. For several months in the middle of the Bight there was a fish trap with its float too short for the depth of the water so that it hung about two feet or so under the surface. It was irritating because the chances were high that you could catch it with your prop and get the dang line fiercely entwined around it.
Finally Mike towed the trap with the dingy to the shore since it seemed to have been abandoned. He was rewarded for his efforts by the two large Yellowtail Snapper which had been swimming in it. Evidently they had eaten all the other fish and were too much the same size to kill each other.
Naturally you know who dined nicely on those two snappers for dinner that night. While eating it, an idea formed. Why not bait the trap and anchor it in a shallower place? We could check it every time we anchored in the Bight and maybe have a nice meal for free. Who knows what we might get?
For a few weeks we got some fish out of it but nothing as big as those two snappers. Then it was time to sail to St. Martin for a cruise ending in Antigua followed by another one after that. By the time we returned, the trap might be full of nice tasting, good-sized fish. Whoopie!
After new charter guests came aboard at St. Martin, we eventually made our way to St. Bartholomey. While snorkeling among the rocks outside the harbor of Gustavia on St. Barths we found another trap on the bottom by itself with no lead line. It seemed like an abandoned trap so we hoisted it aboard and secured it to the davits at the stern and sailed south.
Some weeks later we returned to St. Barths and anchored again outside of Gustavia. It wasn’t long before a French fisherman charged up in his dinghy and made many gestures at the fish trap handing from the davits. It was his, we gathered, but we pointed out that it did not have a lead line on it and that we thought it had been abandoned.
“Mais non,” he replied emphatically, showing us the peculiar aluminum straps attached to the upper side of the trap. These were the marks of the owner of the trap which happened to be him.
Back at the Bight on Norman Island again, we looked for the trap we had left. It had been removed and we never saw it again.
Was it another fish hungry sailor who had gotten it or the original owner?