Catching blue crabs

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Catching blue crabs
Precious Granddaughters

 

Catching Blue Crabs

The crabs are back!! After two years of nothing but frustration off the Gulf coast of Florida, we finally got into the crabs. Final count was 60 which made for a nice crab feast. Some cleaned some steamed whole.  20150512_170018I prefer steaming the crabs whole with 1 part water, 1 part apple cider vinegar, and 1 part beer.  I like to layer the crabs in the steamer with a lot of old bay seasoning between each layer. Just put them in the steamer after it starts to boil and wait 15 minutes and it is game on. Cleaning the crabs first makes for faster eating but I think you loose some flavor doing it that way plus you miss out on the fat in the crab as it washes away if you clean them before steaming. Also, to help out with the frustration of not getting enough crab meat fast enough, throw some sausages into the crab boil.

The girls helped Granddad clean the crabs which made the trip worth the while. PART_1431452190018

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We used crab traps as well as waited for the tide to go out and netted several with a flashlight and crab net. One interesting thing I discovered after walking back and forth in the same area and picking up new crabs is that crabs bury themselves in the sand quite quickly. I happened to see one half buried and then noticed several burying  themselves as soon as they saw me.

PART951431452077284On the next trip we are going to take the shrimp nets as we saw several in the grass while crabbing. A shrimp and crab boil sounds like nirvana to me.

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Big crab

 

 

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Alligator Harbor FL

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Dad Alligator Harbor
My Dad on an oyster bar in Alligator Harbor

 

Alligator Harbor FL is south of Tallahassee, Florida, and a straight shot down 319 to 98. Depending on the time of year the fishing can be amazing. There are Redfish, Trout, Mullet, Sailcats, and an occasional Aligator Harbor IVTarpon in the Harbor. If you like catching sharks, Alligator Harbor, FL is the place for you. I usually try not to worry about sharks, but after being circled by a sizable dorsal fin while cast netting in the Harbor I’m a bit leery of swimming in deep holes. You will catch about one shark per three fish. Though I have hung some sizable ones, they usually fall with the 3’ zone.

The variety of action at Alligator Harbor is quite amazing, in addition to the above, my son caught a gar which was quite a surprise, I had Aligator Harbor Vnever heard of gar in salt water, but the pics don’t lie. Oh and by the way, if you’re wondering where the harbor got its name, there are gators in it, sometimes BIG ones. I have a friend who makes a living dealing with nuisance gators that told me the gators that hang out in salt water tend to be a bit cantankerous as well. My cousin got the gator in the below pic not very far from Alligator Harbor.  I know it sounds like I’m not painting a pretty picture for fishing there, but it adds to experience.

Gator caught near Aligator Harbor
Gator caught near Alligator Harbor

I usually use shrimp or baitfish for bait. Live fingerling mullet is absolutely the best, but pinfish work just fine. Most of the time I can Aligator HarborIIIcatch enough of both with a cast net but if you don’t stop and pick up some shrimp on your way you can be sure there won’t be any bait fish to catch. Murphy’s Law always seems to apply if you don’t purchase a couple dozen shrimp. Just throw Murphy off if you want and pick up a dozen.

Redfish
My son with two nice Redfish

Yep that is a stingray in the pic, at the end of the table, I have been told all my life that a lot of times when you eat scallops at a restaurant you’re actually Aligator HarborIIenjoying stingray wings that have been punched out by a tool that is similar to cookie cutter. Well I had to try it, and I can assure you it is delicious. I tried to fillet it which I don’t recommend unless you know how to fillet snot covered jellyfish. I have since fashioned my own cookie cutter made from a 1” pipe. Bring the stingrays on, I won’t throw them back anymore.

One last note and I know a lot of folks are going to call B.S. on this one, but I have discovered that sailcats are fine eating. Soak those fillets in buttermilk for a bit and fry them with some cornmeal and you won’t believe your taste buds.

Hope you will give Alligator Harbor FL a shot, good luck and happy fishing.

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Sitting in a tree

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Sitting in a tree minding my business

Sitting in a tree

The only stress I feel with a rod and reel or gun in my hand these days is what law might I be breaking and will I get accosted any minute for who knows what?

I can’t keep up with the rules and regulations and not sure there is a Alligator Harborcentral authority to go to for 100 percent up-to-date data. Ever purchased one of those fishing law books only to find it’s outdated before summer is over? Who can remember all that crap?

On top of that you better be dang sure the map you have of the state and/or federal property you’re hunting on is accurate as well. Doesn’t matter if you picked it up at the local ranger station either, it’s not their problem if the map isn’t accurate, it’s yours.

Here is an excellent example; many years ago I was hunting in a state management area.

It bordered a federal wildlife refuge. Naturally I thought the best place to head was as close to the wildlife refuge as I could while staying on the state side. With my trusty map I navigate to the fire break that divides the two and walked along the side (on the state side) ’till I found the perfect spot. I sunk back into the state side about 15 yards and climbed a tree with my ole man tree stand. Life was good, very good, I was alone and not bothering a soul. Me in God’s creation with my bright orange vest on.

After sitting there for about 30 minutes a loud voice broke the silence, “freeze, federal officer drop your weapon.” I was a bit stunned, this has to be a mistake, I mean he couldn’t be yelling at me, but who the heck else could he be yelling at? I looked in the direction of the voice and about 30 yards away I could see a figure behind a tree with what looked like a pistol pointed at me. I was with 4 other folks and thought one of them might be having a bit of sport with me. My reply was an ingenious quick witted “what.” The voice repeated itself much more forceful this time.

So I quickly assessed the situation. I really didn’t want to “drop my weapon” from 18-feet up a tree with a round in the chamber, but I didn’t want to get shot either. So I calmly expressed my concern to which I was instructed to remove the round, shoulder my weapon and climb down. It sounds strange, but I was a bit excited to find out what was going on. I thought someone must be on the lamb in the area or something.

Well that wasn’t it, I was advised that I was trespassing on federal property. Not to get off

National Wildlife Refuge
National Wildlife Refuge

on a tangent, but who owns federal property anyway? Perhaps my taxes contributed to some degree? I pleaded my case, I said that I was on state property and pointed to the fire break and the sign on the other side that read Federal Wildlife Refuge. He sternly said that I was way inside the refuge. He knew it was confusing, but that the fire break went around the cypress head I was in that cut into the refuge.

So I was escorted out and given a civil infraction for federal trespassing. What really hurt was the $500 dollar fine that went with it.

I’ve often thought how bad that whole deal could have gone. What if I had been hard of

hearing and looked down to see someone with a pistol pointed at me?

So, this event may play a major role in my current paranoia. One thing it has taught me is avoid the man all cost. Don’t walk where your boot prints can be followed, take off the orange vest when you get in the tree. Walk into the woods if you’re fishing and you see the game warden coming.

Also, I would be very interested in learning how not to be detected by those new thermal night vision systems they have now. Would some sort of insulation work?

What do y’all think? Anything similar ever happen to you?  Look back at the top of this post and leave a comment on Sitting in a tree post.

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