Persistence or Luck?
Against the odds, early morning crabbing yields crabs aplenty
All last week it had been difficult indeed. Rain and wind had started everything off, then when it finally calmed down enough to get out on the water, I found that the rockfish had vamoosed. By Friday evening, after another long and fruitless day plugging an empty shoreline around the Magothy, I had one big accumulated skunk going into the weekend.
It was then I decided to try something more risky. I was going to try crabbing on Saturday. Since the beginning of summer, good blue crabbing in my area has been fair to horrible, at least for me. Then the drought of the last several weeks made things even worse.
But, I reasoned, sooner or later it would break my way. The crabs had to be out there somewhere. Baiting a snood line up the night before with fat, succulent chicken necks and setting the alarm clock for 0 dark 30, I steeled myself for an early departure.
This time, though, I had a lucky charm along, my wife Deborah. It was one of her last free Saturdays before her professional schedule started up, and she agreed to go along. Perhaps it was out of pity for me, or maybe she had not noticed the weather forecast for 100 degrees on Saturday, but in any case she committed. Things looked good, Deb had always been a lucky angler.
The next morning as we arrived at the boat ramp, I got a sense of foreboding. Only one vehicle with a boat trailer was parked in the lot. There had always been at least a half-dozen crabbers in evidence well before dawn, even during the weekdays.
I didn’t say anything about it, but I braced myself for disappointment. It looked like the crabbing might have shut down completely. It would be a shame if Deb’s final summer excursion on the Bay was a bust. I tried to keep my optimism, but I had a gnawing feeling that maybe we should have stayed in bed.
After we had launched and anxiously sped to my favorite location we found it deserted as well, also unusual. But I laid out the line and kept my mouth shut. After all, pure persistence had come through for me before, and when it comes to fishing and crabbing, only one thing is certain: Nothing is certain.
We gave the line a few minutes to soak and the baits time to start a scent trail. Then we started in. No need for further delaying the inevitable.
The first run was alright; Deb put six keepers in the boat.
The next run went even better, several more crabs were heavy and decent sized, though the throwbacks easily outnumbered the keepers. Of course we scared the daylights out of more than a few getting the netting drill straightened out, but pretty soon not many Number Ones escaped our basket.
We had the whole place to ourselves, and while it was obvious early on that we weren’t going to fill the skiff with jumbos, we were going to get as many fat crabs as we needed.
It was good enough to relax. Occasionally we would stop and take a diversionary trip farther up the creek to rest the line and give ourselves a break. The ducks, herons and gulls that populated the gentle creek were eager to provide entertainment
It was a gorgeous morning, the day’s heat not yet apparent and the pure beauty of the Bay in its wee hours was breathtaking. As we ran the crab line without the pervading turmoil of our too busy household, we also found ourselves actually having an adult conversation.
And as a wonderful bonus, with an occasional jimmie or biddie scrambling fiercely around our bare feet and our mid-life clumsiness all too apparent, we laughed like idiots.
Quitting at 10:30am, we headed in with plenty of crabs in the basket. Relaxed and looking forward to a succulent dinner, I was tempted to think that my persistence had finally paid off, but deep down, I knew better. We had just been blessed by the Chesapeake that particular Saturday.