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October 17, 2014
Fisherman becomes overnight celebrity with catch of the day

Fisherman and diver Yashima “Diver” Fitzpatrick says it was just another day at sea for him, when, on October 9, he caught a huge fish that still has many people talking.

SEARCHLIGHT caught up with Fitzpatrick recently to talk about how he managed to capture the creature which measured over four feet in length.{{more}}

According to the 35-year-old, shortly after midday, he expressed a wish to his friends, not knowing it would become a reality.

“I tell them I going in the water to see if I could find something big today. The same time I tell them so, I geared up and say a little prayer and me say father, put something like a monster in me way,” Fitzpatrick chuckled.

Little did he know what awaited him in the deep waters off Rose Place in Kingstown.

Equipped with his oxygen tank, diving fins and spear gun, the brave diver set out on his quest.

“I go out in the water, just where it have a wreckage and when I enter the water, I see all the small fish dem on the surface, so I know something big was down below,” Fitzpatrick recalled.

Fitzpatrick then decided to confirm his guess.

“I sink from the surface to go to the wreck about 50 feet down. I notice the fishes were still at the top of the water, so I went to the bottom, about 50 feet. I look by the boat (wreckage) and see this big fish coming.”

Fitzpatrick, who says he has been diving since he was 10 years old, said the fish was about five feet away from him when he attempted to catch it.

“Is like he (fish) realize, yeah, is somebody bigger than me and he try move way, when me just hit him straight in he eye,” an animated Fitzpatrick recalled.

He said the fish tried desperately to escape and while he was reeling it in, the large creature managed to administer a blow to Fitzpatrick’s jaw with its tail.

“After he do that, ah send me hand in his gill, because that’s how me kill them. After I do that, I just float him. I just lay on his belly and float it come shore,” Fitzpatrick said.

He said when he brought the fish ashore and people saw it, they began requesting photographs of the creature.

“So me jus say, tek picture,” he laughed.

At about 1:30 p.m., SEARCHLIGHT obtained some of those photographs of Fitzpatrick and the fish and posted them on our Facebook page.

Within minutes of the photographs being posted, our page was abuzz with comments on the capture of the massive creature.

Fitzpatrick said he placed his catch on a cart and took it to the Kingstown Fish Market where he sold it to a vendor. After the creature was gutted, Fitzpatrick said it weighed in at 50 pounds.

When contacted, Fisheries officer Chris Isaacs said they were not able to inspect the fish, as it was not brought to the Fisheries Division. He, however, said from looking at the photographs, the fish appears to be a grouper.

“We weren’t able to have a good look at it, so we are going just based on the pictures,” Isaacs said, adding they have not seen a fish of that size in a quite a while.

According to Wikipedia, groupers can be quite large, and lengths over a metre (3 feet) and weights up to 100 kg (220 lbs) are not uncommon.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick became somewhat of an overnight local celebrity.

“The same evening I dey pon the block here chilling, people telling me how they see me pon Facebook with the fish. When I going up the road the following day to get my tank dem refill, all I could hear people saying is diver boy, that is unbelieveable and how you bad so… Me feel pleased with all of this you know. This is my living,” he said with a huge grin.

Since then, Fitzpatrick said other divers and diving businesses have been asking about his services.

While he admits that he is still surprised by all of the attention his catch has received, Fitzpatrick said this is not the first time he has caught a fish that size.

“Me ah man done accustom to see dem dey. Me ah man does go all ah Balliceaux and Bequia, me alone and shoot big fish, shark and bring them over. Big fish is what I love to shoot,” Fitzpatrick boldly stated, adding that he’s seen fish triple the size of the one he caught last week.(KW)