Fishing with Dynamite

Reading a book called Gladesmen: Gator Hunters, Moonshiners, and Skiffers, about the pre-park Everglades in the 1920s and 30’s. It’s a colorful read, with firsthand narrative like this:

Well back in the ’20s and ’30s, dynamiting fish was quite common, although it was illegal then too. But you could buy dynamite then over the counter at the Horn Hardware and Lumber Company. Even kids could buy dynamite. And, you know, we lived right next to a big magazine of dynamite. Wasn’t over two or three hundred yards from us. If that thing had gone off, it would have blowed us slap into that Long Glade.

When fishing with dynamite, the older men would usually gather up us yearling boys and head to a canal looking for some fish to shoot. One of the best places was called the “big hole,” and it was about a half mile from the mouth of the Florida City Canal where the canal spanned Six Mile Creek. Here we could see that no one was ahead or behind us. If we used too much dynamite, it would break the fish’s rib cage, and it’d kill too many. One and a half inches of dynamite was plenty–just enough to hold the cap. A hole a little bigger than the cap was punched in the dynamite and about two inches of fuse was teeth-crimped in the cap and shoved in the hole and packed with loose dynamite; a little dynamite was put on the end of the fuse so it would be easier to light. A match or glowing cigarette was used to light it. Us boys would stand around the canal with our clothes off. As soon as the charge was lit, thrown, and went off, we’d hit the water on the run. The fish would boil to the top, and the boys would throw them up out of the canal. The older men would sack them up. In five minutes, we would get out of there.

2 thoughts on “Fishing with Dynamite”

  1. OH, man – what a hilarious story! I’ll have to read that book. My grandpa used to call those Dupont Spinners. He’d say, “go get me my #5 Dupont Spinner, Boy.” He was kidding, of course, but I always wondered if people ever did actually fish with dynamite. Guess this answers my questions!

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