Fred's Carp-Photo taken on the banks of the Pajarito Acequia in Albuquerque, NM
Over the years acequia leaders have not only dedicated their lives to protecting water and feeding our communities but holding our cultural narrative deep inside their hearts. Sharing stories, food, water, and occasionally a strong word or two with fellow parciantes or the Mayordomo are some of the daily occurrences that are part of living on the acequia. We believe it is important for us to memorialize, share, and honor the experiences, language and stories that can only be found in our traditional acequia communities. NMAA is opening a section in the Noticias de las Acequias to highlight the stories of Mayordomos and Commissioners statewide with the hope of bringing a smile, laugh or tear to our readers. We think many readers will relate to the cuentos shared here and will feel proud to be a part of such a special culture!
By Frederic Chavez, Pajarito Acequia Association
It was a beautiful September morning in the South Valley of Albuquerque, the sky was clear and the weather was perfect for a walk along the ditch bank. I was approaching the main ditch and checked the gate that holds water for the Rubi Lateral which my property is served by, and connects to the Pajarito Ditch, la acequia madre. To my surprise, there was a small pool of water but a huge fish, struggling to breathe and swim out of the pool. Immediately, I begin thinking about how to save the fish!
I ran to one of my daughter's house where I found a piece of rope about 10 feet long then walked over to my house to get my long pole. I proceeded to make a noose with the rope and tied it around the pole so I could catch the large fish. Back at the ditch, I lowered the noose inside the pool of water and waited for the fish to swim through the noose; as soon as it did, I yanked the pole and the rope tightened around its belly. I have been a fisherman all my life, taking my son and grandchildren fishing for many years but I have never caught a fish this large. When I pulled the fish out of the water it was barely breathing and wiggling with its last strength. It was a carp, two and a half feet long and about 20 pounds with a mouth span as large as a cantaloupe.
Excitedly, I lowered the fish back into the water and tied the rope to a nail that was sticking out of one of the boards on the gate and ran home to get my wife to show her the fish I caught without a hook! I found her in the kitchen making plum jelly but she dropped what she was doing, grabbed the camera, and walked back to the acequia with me. I brought the fish out of the water and held it up against my leg so my wife could take a picture. The fish was almost as high as my knee and as round as my leg. Finally, I let him loose in the Pajarito Ditch where he could swim his way downstream and on his way to Elephant Butte Dam where there is a lot of water to make him very happy!