We had a great time this past weekend. Sunday we spent several hours floating down the famed Juniata river or the "Big J" as the locals say chasing my favorite fish. I actually spent most of the day on the oars rowing Ed and Tyler down the river. The fishing was tough, we did manage to scratch out a good day with approximately 15 landed fish including this 18" tank landed by Ed. Yes, Sunday was a great day, Saturday was even better...
So, about a 10 months ago we got a sweet deal on a nice little John boat from the Millers. You may remember last July I broke my elbow and some ribs, well this is the boat I was on when I fell. The obvious next step would to be to buy the damn thing, makes perfect sense right? Well, we have it and have affectionately named it "The Rib Breaker" Seriously, that is what Braden named the boat after we bought it. This is a perfect little boat to do a lot of the fishing we like in the ponds that litter the lower part of Delaware. We will waterfowl hunt out of it in the fall and winter and as I learned this weekend, this is a great little boat to run a trot line for crabs.
Living in our area Blue crabs are something we look forward to every summer. and this year was no different. What was different is this year we are catching them ourselves instead of paying the close to $300.00 market price per bushel of jumbo crabs. Tyler did all the research and built the 1200 foot trot line, which sounds much easier than it is. There are a lot of parts to a trot line including anchors, bouys, lengths of heavy chain and many brass carabiners.
We started out early (much earlier than I care to get up) at 3:30 am on Saturday morning. We were at the dock and launched by sun up and forsake of a little issue with the plug we were on our way.
So, the most important thing in the initial set of the line. The straighter it is, the easer it will be to "run" the line. With a ripping tide, this is easier said than done. Our line was crooked as an old kerr dogs leg when we were finished, this made for some interesting tending when we ran the line a bit later. One thing that is pretty cool is the more you run the line the straighter is becomes. While the first couple of passes were a little challenging, after that we were running the line like a well oiled machine.
Once the line has had a bit of soak time you run to the down tide side of the line and place the line on the "prop stick". The prop stick is basically a hook hanging off the side of the boat. With the line on the hook the line will ride up off the bottom of the river, up over the hook and back down to the bottom as the boat idles from the bottom of the line to the top.
Now, this is where the fun begins. As the boat is idling up the line with the line on the prop stick the line is gently lifted from the bottom of the river. As the line is coming up and the baits come into view the crab that are on the baits will hang on, all you have to do is net them and put them in the cull bucket. Sounds easy doesn't it?
When you get to the end of the end you take the lone off the prop stick and let it settle back to the bottom. While you are motoring back down to the other end the crabs in the cull bucket are sized. The little ones and females go back and the legal sized males go into the keeper bucket. If you are running a 1200 foot line, by the time you get all the way to the end, cull the crabs from the last run and get back down to the bottom it is time to go again. Once the line is in there really is not any down time.
7 to 10 keepers per run is a good average. At that pace it does not take long to fill a bushel basket.
We did about 7 runs on Saturday and had a bushel of big ole Blue Claws. We were off the water and back home by 2:00 in the afternoon with the boat washed, motor flushed, gear cleaned and stowed for next time.
Remember those 250 chicken necks. Well, they don't take themselves off the line...
Even as nasty as un-baiting the line is, it is all worth it later that evening. Not much is better than a good batch a crabs for dinner.
Like I said, this is not the type of blog post you would normally see on a Fly Fishing web site. Every now and then it is good to do some different things. Till next time...
Tight Lines - Tim