Fishing was a big part of my life as a child. Growing up in a fishing village on the island of Trinidad, my family made a living as fisherpeople and instilled in me a deep connection to nature at an early age. It's safe to say, my relationship with nature began on the water. As a child, my siblings and I spent our time on the beach and riverbanks during school breaks fishing, foraging, and learning. It wasn't just recreation; it was a means of survival, and as a result, I've always had a deep reverence for the sea.
I remember the coast of my village lined with multi-colored fiberglass fishing boats, tied off to coconut trees, bobbing in the water at high tide. The fishermen would leave for days at a time to go out to sea, leaving behind worried wives and relatives. But worry lifted when we got the signal that the boats were returning, and at dawn, when they returned, the villagers would go down to the beach with excitement to help the fishermen pull in the seines. That was one of my favorite activities as a child, spending the whole day with the other village kids, playing on the beach, and identifying all the fish and sea creatures pulled in with the seine catch. That's how I learned about life in the sea, fell in love with the water, and built a connection to nature.
Now, as an adult, fishing continues to have a positive impact on my life in numerous ways. When I'm on the water with a fishing pole in my hand, I'm reminded to slow down and connect with the present moment. It's meditative and nurturing; it brings me a deep sense of belonging and inspires my creativity. Just being on the water serves as a mental health break for me, and it doesn't matter if I catch a fish or not.
My passion for fishing has inspired me to continue pushing for representation on the water and to use my voice and social capital as a Black woman and angler to help break down barriers to entry in this white male-dominated space. I want to inspire my community and encourage Black people, other people of color, and other often excluded groups who want to get on the water to do it. The water is open for everyone, and everyone deserves to experience the peace and tranquility that comes from connecting with it.
I'm happy to say that fishing has been a constant in my life, and I'm grateful for the connection to nature and the peace it brings me. I believe that fishing should be accessible to everyone, regardless of race or gender. Whether it's fishing for survival or just for fun, the water has the power to heal, inspire, and connect us all.
Insider tips for Black anglers
Here are 4 tips for Black fisherpersons to help them build a relationship with nature through fishing:
1. Start small - If you're new to fishing, start by fishing at a local pond or lake. This is a great way to get comfortable with the equipment and techniques before moving on to bigger bodies of water.
2. Learn the basics - Before you start fishing, learn the basics of fishing such as tying knots, baiting a hook, casting, and reeling in a fish.
3. Join a fishing community - Join a local fishing club or community to connect with other Black anglers or fisherpersons. This is a great way to learn from other experienced anglers and to get advice and tips on how to get started.
4. Respect the environment - Fishing is about connecting with nature and being one with the natural world around you.
Fishing is a great way to build a relationship with nature, and these tips can help Black fisherpersons get started. Remember to have patience, respect the environment, and most importantly, have fun!