Daughters catch fishing trait
Tannesia Witter’s passion for the deep blue was ignited as a young girl as her father, a fisherman, would often take her along on his trips out to sea.
Most mornings from as early as 7 o’clock, they went would venture out by boat, returning to their Alligator Pond home by 10 a.m., in time to prepare for classes on the afternoon shift at Manchester High School.
During their time at sea, he would shared his knowledge of marine creatures and the marine world.
Witter recalled in a Gleaner interview that when she was much older, she learned the fishing techniques very quickly and started working alongside her father to sell the snapper fish and lobster they had caught.
“It was a good experience ... and it was easier for him as I helped him with his work,” she said.
Witter, who now resides in the Clarendon community of Farquhar Beach with her six children and husband, has, without realising it, passed down the passion of her fishing hustle to another generation.
Her daughter, Malikea McKalla, who is a grade one student, was, on Tuesday, helping her mother scale and gut the day’s catch of snapper.
With her face made up, lips tightly pressed together, and her eyes laser focused, little Malikea was dedicated to the task at hand as she stood beside her mother attempting to remove the insides of the fish.
When asked why she had decided to help her mother, she simply replied, “Ma go eat them so me haffi help”.
Witter explained that she did not teach her daughter how to prepare the fish for cooking, but that little Malikea would often carefully observe her actions and had one day begun to execute what she had visually studied.
“Me feel good fi know say them a help me,” she said of her youngest girls.
Malikea boasted in a brief interview with The Gleaner that she could scale fish better than her mother could.
SKILL NOT YET MASTERED
But with a fairly dull knife, she struggled with the process and had seemingly not mastered the craft fully. Her mother took over instead, completing the task of scaling and gutting the small fish young Malikea was holding.
Giving into the reality that she was perhaps no match for her skilful mother, Malikea diverted the conversation.
“Me can get one biscuit, Mommy?” she questioned, her eyes bright.
“Me no have it. So a pay me fi pay you fi scale the two likkle fish?” the mother replied as they erupted into laughter together.
Fishing, which has been the livelihood of the family, has been able to send Witter’s children to school and to put food on the table.
Though she has retired from fishing, Witter said she often goes out to sea for sport.
It is her husband who mainly goes out to the nearby Milk River to engage in palanka fishing, which involves setting a crate into the water with multiple hooks of bait, typically squid meat attached, to catch fish.
Witter bemoaned that with recent strong winds being experienced more often in the community, their livelihood was put on pause as it would be too dangerous to go out at sea in the small fishing boat, fearful that it could capsize, resulting in death by drowning.
“We hardly can buy food dem time deh. Even the likkle savings done because sometimes, all months it (strong winds) blow fa,” she said.
Despite her present challenges, Witter remains humbled and grateful for the life she lives. She expressed a sense of pride seeing her children grow up, loving the same experiences that she enjoyed as a child with her father.