Two or three groups of local fishermen go out at daybreak on good weather days. They spend the day diving for conch, spearing crawfish and catching snapper, grouper, kingfish and all other sorts of fruits-de-la-mere. They return at at 2 p.m. and set up shop at the pier at Tarpum Bay. The old folks are there talking under the portico and people slowly start congregating from the village and from nearby. The fishermen unload their catches and sharpen their knives and go to work excising the conch from their shells and cleaning the fish. It’s quite a sight and quite a mess. The many hovering seagulls are well fed and happy. The fishermen know what they are doing but your first impression is that they are hacking away with these big knives and it can seem a little intimidating.
Once finished with their cleaning they hose off their tables and the shopping begins. People walk up and check out their “displays”, point to desired purchases and negotiate their deals. They will fillet the fish as you request. Then the purchase is put in baggies, payment is made and off you go with delightful fresh fish and conch.
The scene is very authentic with locals congregating, beautiful Tarpum Bay as the backdrop and the true local fishermen doing their work as their predecessors have done for hundreds of years. One long-standing family of fishermen is all deaf and has dreadlocks. They negotiate with you with their hands, which can be sort of intimidating to the novice.
So, if fresh fish is your desire, arrive at the pier at Tarpum Bay at 3 p.m. and enjoy the entire scene. We stick with the snapper, conch, grouper and crawfish. The natives enjoy some of the other species, which to me are unknowable and too ghastly looking for consideration on our menu!