This morning Pierre and I got up early to go on a scuba fishing expedition with Jacinto and Juan. Using a kayak to cross the wide and deep channel the sea was cutting into the estuary, we headed to a spot where the waves were a bit calmer, and the fishermen came in a small motorboat to take us over to the Eco I. Unfortunately, it turned out that the smaller boat was to be our vessel for the morning, since the Eco I was out of fuel. A green air compressor machine sat in the middle of the boat, and the long air hose sat coiled at the bow with a couple pairs of flippers and snorkel sets.
Pierre and I installed ourselves at the stern and started putting on sunscreen. “The water visibility is a bit low today, but we will try to find some lobsters,” said Jacinto in Spanish. Juan drove the boat past Morgan’s Rock and close to the rocks on the next cove over. Then he handed the tiller to Jacinto and started pulling on some flippers, signaling for me to do the same. The two fishermen showed me how to operate the air regulator, which was the same sort found on a tank scuba set, and they helped tie the hose so that it fell over my shoulder and across my back.
We weren’t going to be diving more than ten meters down, so we didn’t discuss decompression procedures. Juan jumped into the water after trying the air, and before I joined him Jacinto handed me a fishing glove, explaining that I might use it to hold a lobster. Then I sidled off the boat into the water, forgetting the accepted backwards flipping method that I had always wanted to try.
I swam over to join Juan and we descended into the ocean. The water was fairly cloudy with silt or sand that had been deposited by rivers during the heavy rains earlier in the week, but we could see two or three meters ahead of us. We kept sinking with the help of a couple lead blocks strapped to our waists, and in a few seconds we reached the rocky bottom, where dozens of tiny orange sea fans and blue coral tubes stuck out of the crags. Pretty soon, Juan beckoned me over and pointed at a crevasse with a couple antennae sticking out of it. He had been carrying an arm length rod with a hook at the end, and I now got to watch him use it. Slowly teasing the hook past the lobster he suddenly yanked it back so that the hook jammed into the underbelly of the blue and orange crustacean just before the tail. Drawing the lobster near, he used the hook to make a killing stroke, and we continued on our way.
Juan caught another lobster soon after while I was busy examining a group of sea stars, and then I spotted my own prey. I showed him the waving antennae, and with his finger, he mimicked the technique I had already seen him employ, and then gestured at the crevasse before handing me the hook. I tried to imitate his method but without seeing the lobster I had no idea where I was supposed to yank, nor did I know what direction the hook was pointing in. When I pulled the hook violently back, it of course came back empty, and the antennae disappeared.
Pierre and Jacinto were waiting for their turn on the boat above, so we ascended and prepared to change location. Passing Otocal the way we came, we crossed the cove and went to the rocks north of Morgan’s Rock . Here Pierre and Jacinto dove for a while and Juan ate a late breakfast as I tried photographing some birds with no success. When the pair came back up, we had a total of five lobsters and a couple oysters. The water visibility was only worsening, so we ended our expedition and turned back to Ocotal beach. The fishermen promised us that they would inform the lodge in the event of clearer waters and put the lobsters in a bag. Thanking them, Pierre and I went back across the estuary and handed the crustaceans over to the kitchen to receive a delicious lunch for ourselves and dinner for a couple that was leaving the lodge that night, and whom we would be joining on the Granada & Volcanoes Tour the next day.