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Crabbing

2011.06.19
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Here we are as the sun rises. This picture is actually at Matapeake State Park. The dock used to be where the Chesapeak Bay Ferry would pick up people before they build the Bay Bridge.
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Here's the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. At the time it was built (1952) it was the longest over water steel structure in the world and the third longest bridge (4.3 miles). The oddly curved design is due to an odd rule stating bridges in Maryland have to cross the water at a 90 degree angle. The bridge enters the water at 90 degree angles on both sides and then slightly curves in the middle.
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When I took this photo, I didn't even realize that there was a fisherman on the edge of the dock.
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We did what's call hand lines. They involve two people and a crabbing net. You simply tie bait (usually raw chicken necks) onto the end of a string and then tie the string to the dock. You want to put enough string on the line so the chicken neck sits on the bottom of the ocean. Crabs, being scavengers, will craw around and grab hold of the chicken. You'll notice the line will start to "walk" away from the dock. At this point, one person begins to slowly pull the line in. Crabs, being rather simple creatures, will actually hold onto the chicken as you pull it in. The second persons job is to take a crabbing net (a 7 foot long pole with a nylon net on the end) and try and scoop the crab up when you get it close to the surface. This is the tricky part because though crabs are pretty dumb, they spook easily and let go when you get them close to the surface. If your crab net is long enough you can use this to your advantage and scoop under the crab so if they let go they'll fall right into your net.
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This is our first catch of the day. The Chesapeake Bay ran into a bit of a problem a couple of years ago due to over fishing of the crab population. The population level of the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab was close to wiped out and drastic measures were taken to bring the population back. Thankfully after a couple of years of crabbing restrictions, the population is back to booming and what I can only describe as incredibly far sighted for a local government - Virginia and Maryland have opted to continue with the crabbing restrictions to further boost the population levels.
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The results of our bounty. I'm not sure how crabs are served elsewhere in the world (of if they are at all), but the only way to cook them is to steam them in Old Bay. Old Bay is a local seasoning mix that was created in Maryland in the 40's. It's spicy and salty and delicious. It's a must have in Maryland and is put on everything from seafood to chicken salad.
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I went crabbing this weekend for the first time in what seems like forever. When I was younger this was a family ritual. Every year we'd get up at what seemed like an ungodly early hour and pile into the car to go crabbing. We'd almost always end up dissapointed with our megar catch, but it was fun nonetheless. Feeling nostalgic, I decided it was time to get together for another crabbing trip. This time we did get up at an ungodly hour (04:00) and headed out to crab at Romancoke Pier. It's a 1/4 mile(ish) pier about 1 1/2 drive southeast of from where I live. We made good time and got a large spot of the pier to ourselves. By the end of the day (noon) we had about a dozen crabs. Thankfully, the day was saved by a guy on the side of the road selling crabs for $10/dozen. For those of you who aren't from this area, crabs are going for $65/dozen right now - $10 was a deal we couldn't pass up. These turned out to be some of the sweetest and tastiest crabs I've had in a very long time. All in all the trip was a success and I can't wait to go again.
2 Comments
marilynx Love the last photo...reminds me of Van Gogh's painting.
marilynx · 2011-06-20: 10:27
elizzi love this set and the secret fisherman!
elizzi · 2011-06-27: 19:19
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Tagged: crabs crabbing maryland chesapeake bay
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