Hugh Bush, Kevin Levy, Olson Levy, John Andrews, Truman, Tony and Ronnie Minzett, Marko Whittaker and Bradley McLaughlin are all from a long line of Caymanian fishermen.
They carry on a fishing tradition that has been passed from father to son.
Fishing is not a life for everyone. Long hours, hard work and bad weather are enough to keep most people on land. But if you ask any of these young men taking to the seas on calm days, or even in rough weather, they will tell you it is lots of fun catching fish.
The older Caymanian generation had to fish because, for many, it was the only way to feed their families. It’s doubtful they saw it as a sport. Today’s young people are both able to feed their families and relish the enjoyment of fishing.
In the old days, most fisherman left their beds well before sunrise. Kids on the way to school could see them in the early morning, walking the beaches, casting nets onto the schools of fish swimming in the shallows or packing up the dory to head to sea. They were making a living.
Those who did not have the little boats called dories would sit on the beach with line in hand waiting on a big pull. Some fishermen spent time in shallow waters setting fish traps which they made at home from wire and branches of the rosemary tree while others repaired boats and mended nets.
Bodden Town fisherman Hugh Bush spoke about being out on the open ocean and the great excitement of a good catch of fish.
“It is relaxing, part of tradition and a way of life for me,” he said, adding that some days there was a good catch and others none.
“It can be rough and hard and dangerous out there sometimes, but it’s what I love to do when I get the time.”
Sometimes, things go wrong.
“Last year, we went out and the boat and engine busted open because of the rough weather,” he said.
The boat started taking on water and sinking, and sea water began mixing with the gas in the engine.
“We had to bail and row like hell all the way from Morritt’s in East End to get the boat to the launch ramp next to Over the Edge in North Side,” he said.
“The most dangerous thing that can happen to a fisherman at sea is to have his boat sinking.”
While many fishermen admit that fishing can exact a physical and emotional toll, it can be quite adventurous and fun at times.
Fishermen have to know the fish they are after, how best to catch them, how best to bring them in, and how to keep them fresh until they bring them to shore to sell. They also have to know the sea. Changes in the sea affect boat gear as well as the fishing.
Kevin Levy said for him fishing is about having fun. Getting food and making a sale makes it all even more worthwhile.
The fishermen love to joke around about their adventures on the sea.
Mr. Levy recounted how Mr. Bush was chased by a barracuda while he was in the water.
“Bushy just turned around and quickly pierced the fish,” he said. “It was fried barracuda and fritters that night for supper.”
Mr. Bush shot back with another story:
“One time Kevin went fishing with plaits and beads in his head, and the fish starting chasing him because the fish thought the beads in Kevin’s head was food,” he said.
The fishing tradition clearly will live on for now, it seems, with many more stories waiting to be told.