Commercial spearfishermen in the Bahamas-life on a smack boat June 14 2012
The other day I i ended up on a commercial fishing boat in the Bahamas, otherwise called a smack boat. I wanted some good chum to use for mutton snapper and hogfish and I thought I would trade these guys some beers for some conch slop (the scraps left over after they clean the conch). so i jumped in a digny and headed out to the closest conch boat I saw anchored in the harbor. I had packed a few cold beers for the trade and at the last minute I grabbed 2 different spearing magazines. Am I glad I did! These guys had been professional commercial spearfisherman and conch divers for 20, 30, even 40 years....but they had no idea that spearfishing has such a strong following around the world and that people treat it like a sport. For these guys, it is the way they make their living, and it is hard work.
One of the magazines had photos of guys who had landed some giant pelagic fish. tuna and marlin. You should have seen the look on their faces! They were pretty impressed with some of the giant broomtail groupers too. I am hoping next time I am over here I will get a chance to go out and watch these guys dive. I know they use a compressor a lot, but I also know they can dive like mad holding their breath. Anyone who can swim around holding onto 6 heavy conchs at once while holding their breath is an impressive diver.