Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crab-Trap Saga

It began at Christmas. My brother Adrian bought a crab-trap for Markus. Finally in February, Markus appeared home from a friend's house, grabbed the trap and some life-jackets, and dropped it - with the friend's trap - on a line off of the friend's boat, in Deep Bay. All very lovely, but when the diligent friend went to check the traps, he discovered that ours had become hopelessly entangled with the buoy line, and had to be cut free, to save the rope. Various plans were hatched, and during the next couple of weeks we went out twice to try to retrieve the trap by fishing for it with various improvised tools... until one day the friend handed us a new trap.

The new trap sat around for a few weeks, until the kids and I took the notion to just simply drop it off the Mt. Gardner dock and see what would happen. We got a fishing license, and headed down. Oops. No bait. So we decided to just put a very mussel-laden rock in, which we first smashed the mussel-shells on. Here is what ensued:

Rhiannon and her friends untangled the rope.

We guessed that 20 knots might suffice, so they calculated 5 each, and tied with all their might!

Dropping time!

...and off we went.
When we came back to check the trap two days later, we found it neatly tied up on the dock. The rope was cut. Wait - no - not cut... lacerated! our rope had obviously wound around somebody's propeller, and we'd caused a moderately large pain in the ass for some poor soul who then carefully unwound it, rolled it up, and set it on the dock for us!! So sorry, whoever you are, and SO grateful!!

Well, we had arrived with real (junkfood) bait, this time, and tried to do a better job of setting the trap. Cheap catfood tied on a string, to keep it from falling or drifting out of the trap. Markus hunted the beach until he found a plastic bottle, which we filled with rocks and tied 2/3 the way up the rope. The idea was that this would keep the slack rope from drifting around at low tide. We also went through considerable effort to tie the rope around the actual decking of the float, in order to keep it out of the way of future potential prop-accidents.

Which would they like best? Cheap canned food or cheap bagged food? Are crabs picky?

Back two days later again... the kids made the exciting haul...
Tally: 2 giant sunflower stars, one small sunflower stars, and one giant pink spiny seastar.

Well, like everything else in life, it was a learning experience.

...learning about giant pink spiny seastars...

We went back with Ethan and Andra a couple of days later: More Sunflower Stars!!  This photo shows the quickly-retreating stomach of the giant sunflower star who had completely encased the can of catfood and was busy digesting its contents to nothingness. It was not sharing. Upon contemplation, we realized that where sunflower stars (voracious, giant, and relatively fast-moving predators of the seafloor) are plentiful, crabs may not wish to hang around...  At low tide we could see at least 20 sunflower stars just around the dock.

...nevertheless, for experience's sake...

...the kids added a new piece of bait and threw the trap back in, anyway.

A couple of days later again we went back and finally took our trap home. We now have plans to take it out with its own buoy, and see if we can find something edible. Someday.


  1. What fun! Where is the Mt Gardner dock?

    As you suggested I picked up a large Bowen map from The Office and it is now our plan to visit every beach we can access.

    May need to pick up a crab trap for scientific exploration as well!

  2. Mt Gardner dock AKA Galbraith Bay. Really wonderful beach for exploring. Along with your most excellent Dunster map, may I also recommend a tide-chart:

  3. And is it OK to tie up at the dock? And fishing licence comes from the muni?

  4. Well, actually, there's a sign on the dock that says no traps or boats left on dock. We weren't sure if "under" the dock qualified as opposed to leaving it 'on' the dock, but we assumed that, as long as we made the trap safe and kept it out of the way of passing boats and props, it would be fine.

    As for the license, we got ours online. You need a saltwater license (free for the kids!) and can forgo the extra salmon fee, if you don't need it. Then if you want to go catch trout, you need a freshwater, too!


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