From a collection of parts like a hand-carved wooden handle, a frame from a discarded aluminum beach chair, holding back a trigger pulled taut by some J$120 per foot of rubber tubing attached with a bicycle spoke, propelling the make-shift auto transmission linkage hammered into a spear, the self-fashioned spear gun takes shape. Jamaican schoolboys along the coast often spend their weekends and days off from school searching the azure blue waters, using these crude but effective spear guns with deadly results. “Parrot” and “Doctor” fish are the most plentiful and thus make up the majority of the days take but “Runt”, “Flounder”, “Singing Grouper”, “Barracuda” and “Jack” fish help fill out their stringers which are sold for J$120 per pound to local residents. Top-feeding reef fish are small and a good days fishing will result in these youths getting only about 5 pounds of sellable catch, giving each boy about $4.00US a day for his efforts. This money is critically important as it costs about J$100 (@ $2US) to attend school each day, with the taxi fares, small lunch and a box drink.
The boys begin about 6:00 am to get an early start on the day. Donning fins, mask and snorkel tube, along with their spear guns, they float above and between the reef outcroppings looking for their prey. Deeper below, the fish are faster and more elusive. The older, larger fish have been well conditioned by years of dodging which often frustrates these relentless hunters, resigning them to concentrate on the smaller targets closer to the surface. Although sport diving and fishing can be an expensive hobby to pursue while on your Jamaican vacation, requiring large boats and extensive gear, spear fishing can be a relatively easy and inexpensive way to spend your time while snorkeling. These spear guns can be rented or purchased from residents of the coastal communities and for a few more dollars, you can hire a local guide who is intimately familiar with the area reefs. Also, this is a sport that can pay for itself! You just might be able to sell your catch to the local residents when you’re done for the day!
Bruce Acosta (pictured), son of Rupert “Pert” Acosta, (the 1999 Blue Marlin Fishing Champion at Port Antonio representing Blue Harbour, once the residence of the English Playwright, Noel Coward) still operates his late father’s small fishing and free-diving boat out of the Port Maria area. This traditional wooden craft can comfortably carry a half-dozen or more people who want to fish, dive or just sightsee the beautifully scenic coastline. Half-day tours will cost you as little as $25US per person and to free-dive or fish, as little as $35US per person, making it a real bargain for the tourist.
If the Port Maria area is your travel destination and you want to find out more about how you can arrange for a boat and equipment, contact email Liz for information. Remember, all around Jamaica are local spear fishermen and divers who are eager and most willing to take you on a memorable excursion into the fascinating waters that lie just off the coast…Bill Evans
Need help in planning your adventure travel while in Jamaica. Feel free to email me at the following addresses : [email protected]