Fishing: A Perpetual Series of Occasions for Hope


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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.
John Buchan

Early this morning, at the crack of dawn, two brothers borrowed our kayak and paddled offshore to place their net below the shallow waters of Lake Cocibolca. Within five minutes, they hauled up a huge fish, similar to a Sea Bass. It is the chicken of the sweet sea, a type of Guapote, with enough meat to feed a large family.

Fishing on Lake Cocibolca is not a sport: fishing sustains life here. Julio and Jose are among the many young men on the island in pursuit of what is elusive, but attainable. Fishing is hope…hope that they can feed their families…hope that they can haul in a big catch…hope that they can make life a little better for their families.

Fishing gives them daily opportunities to pursue what is attainable, because there are many things that are out of reach for the poor in Nicaragua…a college education…a secure job…quality health care..comfortable housing….to name a few.

Yet, because their needs are simple, they have no hopes and dreams for the unattainable. They happily fish through life with a sense of realism that astounds me. They are satisfied with what they have,and live without expectations for the unreachable. Therefore, they have few disappointments in life. A great day is one big, fat Guapote, or a net full of smaller, bony fish.

I wonder about this simple philosophy of life. Is it better to have a perpetual series of occasions for hope, than hope for that which is unlikely to occur? I think of the times I bought lottery tickets hoping that I would win the Powerball. Even winning a dollar on a lottery ticket was a disappointment to me. I was hoping for the unattainable.Now, it seems like such a waste of energy and worry.

What I have learned from watching Jose and Julio fish in the calm waters of our sweet sea, is that hope and reality are brothers in life. It’s like taking baby steps…one little step at a time…leading to the big catch. It involves taking a realistic view of one’s life, pursuing those elusive, but attainable Guapote, and having a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

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9 thoughts on “Fishing: A Perpetual Series of Occasions for Hope

  1. Great piece and photos! I’m forwarding on to a number of people in U.S. I’ve been telling about guapote and fishing in Cocibolca. A great followup (also to the Mark Twain piece) would be description of the river shrimp in Rio San Juan that are the size of lobsters. Anyway, keep on writing!
    PS I was just on Ometepe and going to look you up while with Reuben but ran out of time and needed to head to northern Nica so I could deal with the unwanted lakes (flooding) up here.

  2. So many of the latin american lakes are polluted. Are the fish ok to eat? I’m a fisherman and would love to find a good lake

    • Hi Clarence,
      Thanks for visiting my blog. My husband is a fisherman, too. He usually takes the kayak out daily to do a little fishing. Lake Cocibolca is the largest fresh water lake in Central America and the 11th largest lake in the world. There is virtually no industry around the lake and only 2-3 cities on the shores of the lake. Several years ago, there was a fish kill(about 700 dead fish) on the other side of the island. Until the inspectors could find the cause, all activity stopped in the lake. They vaccinated the cattle, and the fishermen halted their daily fishing. Three weeks later, they determined that it was an isolated fish kill. The farmers had sprayed their fields with pesticides, then there was a downpour, and the pesticides had washed into the lake resulting in the fish kill. We eat the fish out of the lake, but only the Guapote and the Tilapia. The other fish are small and don’t have much meat. There used to be a Tilapia fish farm on the Merida side of the island. The Tilapia escaped and have taken over the lake….breeding like crazy. To try to answer your question, I am sure that the lake has some pollution, but it has been difficult to find any information about the lake. The last research we could find was done in 1986. Ron was trying to find a topographical map of the bottom of the lake, no luck. It is a shallow lake, but we’re not sure how shallow it is. Lake Cocibolca has come to the attention of UNESCO and may be named another Biosphere Reserve, like Ometepe Island. If so, I am sure that more attention will be paid to the environmental quality of the lake. I know that as a result of Ometepe Island’s new Biosphere Reserve status, many new laws and protections are in place. You will just need to come to Nicaragua to try out the fishing for yourself. lol 🙂

      • Hi
        Glad I came across your blog as I’ve enjoyed reading about your experiences. We have been looking for a winter home in Cental/South America. We are retired and have grandkids here so not looking for fulltime living elsewhere. We just came back from Costa Rica and Mexico. Some things we liked –some we didn’t. Of course we’re not expecting utopia, but we do expect to know when someplace “feels” right. We don’t have plans right now to come down to Nicaragua as we’re scheduled to to go back to the Carribean next. However we will be watching your upcoming elections with interest

    • Tamara, thank you so much. The Nicaraguan people, as well as people everywhere in the world, have an abundance of positive traits. I’m only trying to do my part by emphasizing the positive over the negative. There is too much negativity in this world. I had a bumper sticker on my car that said, “Attitude is the real disability. Change it.”

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