The Electric Fishermen
Nature is my next-door neighbor. My outdoor kitchen/deck faces a marsh and the mountains. If something drops off the counter or deck, it bounces into the stream, which is very convenient for getting rid of fruit skins, piles of suicidal insects of unwanted guests. Although it seems very secluded, I never know who or what will show up: a 300-year-old woman ambles by as I’m doing yoga and wonders why the weird white guy is motionless in a pretzel position; some little dude with a very big gun hunts something while I hope it’s not Farang Season; a man-monkey hybrid scampers up a vertical tree and munches leaves.
And The Electric Fishermen slosh through the stream. The stream looks lovely from a distance but it’s not the clear, cool, mountain variety. It’s warm, flat, brown and filled with agricultural whatever, sinister septic hoo-hah, UFOs—Unidentified Floating Objects, stool samples from my landlord’s diverse fowl collection, excretions from other bungalows, and yesterday, a six-foot snake. After stepping in while attempting to retrieve runaway kitchen items and sinking ankle-deep into invisible muck, I scrub with concentrated cleaning fluid, bleach and sandpaper. Not only do The Electric Fishermen wade in this infested water up to their necks, their homemade “fishing rod” is hot with watts.
Their instrument of death is a mesh of metal lashed to a snake-length bamboo pole wrapped with a live wire slithering through the water, up the bank and finally sticking in one side of one outlet by my water pump. Fisherman A kills and Fisherman B stuffs the assorted dead in a sack as the wife and kids watch the shocking scene, prepared to pull Daddy out and put him in a body bag. I just picture their hair dryer drops into the bathtub. It’s no mystery why my electric bill doubled with these addled anglers pumping current straight into the waterways of Thailand.
Fishing in America is littered with specific licenses, daily limits, one-hook rules, seasonal regulations, computerized fish locators, atomic depth finders, supernatural strategies and endless TV angling shows that rival golf shows for Death By Boredom. I don’t remember anyone plodding through sewage, armed with high-powered cattle prods and extension cords, but this method brings to mind a story involving two neighbors: an avid fisherman and the game warden.
Mr. Fisher routinely comes home with a huge catch. When Mr. Warden asks to join him and get a few tips, Mr. Fisher says, “No problem. Meet me at the lake on Saturday at dawn.” Out in the boat, Mr. Fisher lights a stick of dynamite, flings it into the water and scores of lifeless fish fly into the air. As he gathers them into his net, Mr. Warden goes ballistic: “This is outrageous! Totally illegal and disgusting! I’ll have you put away!” Mr. Fisher calmly reaches into his tackle box, gets another stick, lights it, throws it into Mr. Warden’s lap and asks, “Are you going to bitch or are you going to fish?”
I hope The Electric Fishermen never learn this technique or my domestic peace will be shattered by explosions as dead fish, snakes, geese and body parts of the fishermen and their families flop onto my deck.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com