IT'S ALL OUT THERE IN HERE...







Sunday, October 28, 2012

MY HUSBAND GAVE ME CRABS

Dungeness crab.  Need I say more?  If you have had the opportunity to taste one of these crazy looking creatures, you know what I'm talking about.  They are absolutely delicious and my most favorite meat.

During the course of the year, we collect our crab bait.  Leftover tuna carcasses from canning, kokanee heads, shad, old meat, etc.  The more oily and smellier the muck, the better they like it.

Crabs can be caught either off of the docks or using a boat.  You'll want to check your tide tables before you head out.  Crabs feed during the in coming and slack tides when the food is most accessible.  We usually start throwing the crab pots out a couple of hours before slack tide.  Slack tide is the period of time before any turn of the tide.  If using a boat, crab generally live in sandy to mildly rocky bottom accompanied by eel grass, a type of seaweed. 

Although Oregon allows crabbing all year, a good rule of thumb for crabbing season is, if the month has an "R" in it, it's time to crab.  For example, SeptembeR, OctobeR, NovembeR, etc.  The months that don't have an "R" is generally when the crabs are molting and growing new shells.  Crabbing during this time often results in crab that are empty or nearly meatless.



Using an old piece of plywood and two sawhorses, here is a workstation I set up in the garage to process the bait. 
(click on pictures for larger view)


I like to package the bait into gallon sized Ziplock freezer bags.  Each bag is labeled and loaded with enough bait so it will fit easily into the bait area of the trap.  If chopping frozen bait, I highly recommend using a meat cleaver instead of a nice knife like I used...and ruined.


These buckets are perfect for housing the packaged frozen bait.  Each is double lined with a heavy duty trash liner and then capped with the lid.  
They fit perfect in our large freezer and the drift boat, and also double as a trash can in the boat.  
To ensure better quality bait, I keep it frozen until we are minutes from pulling out and then load it into the boat.


While traveling, we like to house the motor on the floor of the boat instead of it riding on the transom.


Who wouldn't want to have this guy as your skipper?
At the dock ready to go


Bait to be loaded into trap

Loading up the trap.  
Unless you want to smell like bait for days, 
I highly recommend wearing a heavy rubber glove of some kind.

"Bait tank" filled to the rim with your top of the line stinky, yummy tuna carcass. 

If you have this style of trap, be sure to secure the door on your bait.  
There are a lot of other creatures down there that would love to have this snack.  
Each trap is equipped with 75' of sinking rope attached to a brightly colored buoy.
I also attached a yellow reflective material that will help with spotting the buoy with a spotlight if in low light or foggy conditions.

When setting your traps, first throw out the buoy, then hand feed the coiled rope while the boat moves away from it.  At the end of your rope (literally, not figuratively), drop your pot in the waterKeep pots at least 100' away from each other.  Let them 'soak' for at least 20 minutes.
It is helpful to have a depth finder installed on your boat, otherwise you run the risk of losing your pot in too deep of water.

My most favorite captain

If we aren't fishing, we like to take in the sites while the pots soak.  
This is the Conde B. McCullough Memorial Bridge connecting the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend on U.S. Route 101. Spanning over Coos Bay, it is 5,305 feet long.





A former employer of my husband, Sause Bros. in Coos Bay began with a small wooden tugboat in the 1930's Today, Sause Bros. have locations along the entire west coast and Hawaii.  Their fleet contains more than 60 tugs and barges that carry such cargo as lumber, plywood, petroleum products, and chemicals.  This is one of their 'medium' sized barges.

Seagulls.  Both annoying and entertaining, but very efficient at finding their next meal.


This one earned the name 'Oscar', as in 'The Grouch'.

While taking his picture, I earned the privileged of getting barked at and nearly spit on.

Charleston Marina


The Oregon Coast is filled with beautiful landscape


After letting pots soak for 20-30 minutes, the traps are pulled.  
When you get them in the boat, they look at you with those beady little black eyes and wonder what just happened.  
The best way to handle a crab is to grab them from behind with your thumb underneath and your fingers on the top.  Be very careful to avoid the very strong pinch of those front claws...they can put the hurt on.

Keepers!  
This is a typical crab 'gauge' used to measure the shells of the crab to ensure that they are legal.


The minimum measurement for keepers in Oregon is 5 3/4" across the back of the shell at the widest point between the largest 'horns'.  They MUST BE MALE 
Check the regulations before you head out.  Missing a measurement or keeping the wrong sex could result in huge fines.
(courtesy of ODFW)

Male crab




Differences between male and female
(courtesty of ODFW)


A cooler full of goodness


Some of the oddest looking creatures that have a fairly disgusting diet...but oh my are they tasty.


Clean up of gear is ESSENTIAL after it has been exposed to salt water.

The captain giving the boat a bath.

If you want to get a long life out of your motor, flushing out the salt water with fresh water is a must.  Using a device called a flushing muff (hey, I don't name these things), a garden hose is connected to the motor without the need of submerging the motor in a large basin of water.

After we returned home from our trip, my husband being the giver he is, gave half the neighborhood crabs.




"The crab that walks too far falls in the pot." -- Haitian Proverb

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

INTO THIN AIR

Every once in awhile, one may visit a destination that really makes an everlasting impression.  On our most recent vacation, my husband and I visited one of those places.  The Steens Mountain.  Located in southeastern Oregon, these structures are massive, breathtaking, and the fall colors made it magnificent.



Morning sunrise
(click on pictures for larger view)
















Pushing the 10,000' elevation mark, you can see just about everything.
Due to a forest fire in Idaho, some of our visibility was limited.



Wildhorse Lake
































While making our way down the mountain, we were lucky enough to see the wild Kiger mustangs feeding along side the road.  I was able to get within about 30' of them to get some shots.


These horses were first discovered in 1977 in the Kiger Gorge/Steens Mountains of southeastern Oregon and are thought to be direct descendants of the horses brought to the new world by the Spanish Conquistadors in the late 1500's and early 1600's.
















"I've learned that everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it."
--Unknown