THE CRANKY OLD MAN
Random thoughts and stuff from a cranky old man. Humor (maybe)and satire, mostly stuff from a confused head.
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Thursday, May 19, 2016
Crabbing Is Not Pretty!
Crabbing Is Not Pretty!
watching the reality TV show, “The Deadliest Catch.”I think this is the only reality TV show that
actually is mostly real.The show
follows several crabbing boats out of Alaska in the quest for crustacean gold,
King and Opilio Crab.
part of my interest in this show is that my entire family and I were once crab
fishermen.Not exactly to the extent of
the crabbers on the TV show, but I do feel a certain kinship.
retired in the 70’s to a creek off of the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of
Maryland.Anyone who lives on the
eastern seaboard knows that the “Bay” is famous for its blue claw crab.Steamed fresh with a generous dose of “Old
Bay” seasoning, the blue claw crab is a tasty feast fit for a king.
the creek was similar to crabbing on the Bering Sea, except without that risking your life part. Our boat was a small skiff
from which we laid out a string of baits, called a trot line, to catch the blue
claws.A chain on either end of the line
kept the baits on the bottom, an empty Clorox bottle (bags on the TV show)
floated on either end of the line.
The line was
baited about every five feet with a piece of dried eel.Loading the line with bait and placing it in
a large bucket in preparation for running the line was rather sloppy. Dried eel gets stinky and slippery and
disgusting.This is where I get this
posts title.Preparing a line with a
friend who had never crabbed with a trot line before, the newbie complained
about the eel mess.He said solemnly,
“Crabbing Is Not Pretty.” It became a family mantra.
line was slowly released into the creek, and stretched out a bit before letting
it “soak” just like on the TV show.After a good soak the line (100 yards was the legal limit for recreational
crabbers) was pulled in.It was not
actually pulled in; it was lifted onto a roller and slowly brought up from the
bottom.As the line went over the
roller, crabs (they are not particularly bright creatures) would hold onto the
eel and we would net them before they dropped off.The line then rolled off back to the
bottom.At the end of a run we let it
soak again before running the line.
went on all day in order to catch enough crab for the entire family (often 16
or more) to enjoy a proper crab feast.
trot line run would yield two or three crab.A good run might bring in eight or ten.My SIL, Judy, claims the record of 18 netted on a single run.When the netting was hot it could get
exciting in the skiff with crabs just flung into the boat and missing the
bucket.Crabs in the boat could get
angry.(We did learn interestingly
enough, that if you turned a crab on its back and stroked its belly they would
fall into a sleep state and be harmless to handle.)
had to be culled just like on the TV show. The shell had to be a certain size
from point to point to be legal, smalls and females were returned to the creek
to grow and or create more crabs.
After a day
of hard work crabbing, they were steamed, seasoned and enjoyed with corn on the
cob and a beer or two.The crabs are
delicious, but they are sloppy to eat.Traditionally a paper is spread over the table so after the feast it
would just be rolled up with all the shells and guts and lungs (gills) thrown out in
one quick clean up.