Thursday, January 19, 2017

Gathering stone crabs was today's mission.

“Kill Fish” popped up on my cellphone. My buddy uses texts both simple and direct.

First, I showed him how I sell books. Then I asked him to show me how he gets fish. He seemed to like this idea a lot. He employs several methods for getting food from the ocean and gulf. Spearfishing is his favorite. But I do not have a mask or a gun.

After receiving the message, I rode my bicycle to his boat. The entire operation took 25 minutes, which included cooking my breakfast and eating.

I used a toe strap from my milk crate to secure my Hoopty to the cleat on a piling. I thus secured my rig where the liveaboards are docked, and proceeded, stoned as fuck, to the boat.

This is the season for stone crabs. We would be going to get them. My friend fired up the boat's engines, and pointed us out toward his traps.

The traps look like milk crates with cement on the bottom. There is an opening on the side for the crabs to enter, but crabs are too stupid to find their way out. For bait you use chicken or cat food - for the latter you just poke a hole in the can. The cement keeps the trap on the bottom. The water of the gulf here is shallow - the traps can be seen a few feet below. A line is tied to the trap at one end, and extends to a styrofoam ball on the surface. You pull the boat up alongside the foam marker buoy, and use a hook to grab the line from below. You wrestle the trap from the water, and hope there are stone crabs inside.

One lesson learned is how strong these crabs are. The word on the street is that getting pinched fucking hurts. With this in mind, I was apprehensive about grabbing around in the traps.

If I were left on my own to assume, I'd think the object was to bring the crabs home. Not so. You rip the claws off in situ, and toss the crabs back into the water. That is, of course, if the claws measure 2 3/4 inches or more. There is a handy plastic gauge to help measure. Today we got some whoppers.

The crabs survive fine, and the claws grow back. I wrestled a few off, and that was intense. Big crabs fight hard, but once you're holding the claws, you are determined as hell to not lose your grip. In a couple of years the claw is big enough to be ripped off again, if the crab is unlucky enough to be caught twice. What a life. But the claws are super delicious.

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