When the weather’s nice and the water is calm, Rodney and I often consider going for a paddle. And every six months or so, we drop our crab trap in the water in the hopes of snagging some Howe Sound Dungeness Crab. We know there’s crab down there because we find claws and other dead-crab debris washed up on our beach. Actually our dogs usually find the dead crab debris first and either eat or roll in it. Nevertheless, this would seem to be evidence of crustaceous life in the waters off our beach.
It all started when my friend and fellow crab-lover Teresa got me a crab-trap for my birthday. That year we regularly dropped the crab trap. Our neighbour insisted he’d successfully caught crab off our beach using a punctured tin of cat-food as bait. We tried that–no luck. Teresa, (who has commercial fisherman in her DNA) said we need to use prawn-heads and other fishy kitchen castaways. No dice. Several online and print references directed us to use very fresh dead fish as bait. This also proved fruitless.
Then one day we paddled out to where we’d dropped the trap only to find it missing. No buoy, no trap, no nothing. Bummer. Rodney and I mulled over the conditions in our heads and came to the conclusion that with the low tide, our non-sinking yellow line had probably been floating along the surface and gotten sliced by a motorboat engine. I had visions of crabs piling up and up in our crab trap which was now forever to remain at the bottom of the ocean. I finally consoled myself with the thought that eventually enough dead crabs would pile up in the trap that they’d be able to get in and out the trap door. Hmmph. Some consolation.
I figured that signaled the end of crabbing for us. But no. While beachcombing on the opposite side of the island from us, Rodney found a large buoy with no identifying marks on it that he couldn’t resist taking home with us. “What for?” I’d asked. “For crabbing” Rodney responded. Coincidentally, a week later, the buoy that had been attached to our disappeared crab trap mysteriously arrived on our doorstep. Literally. It had our last name and phone number (along with “Kat’s Crabby Trap”) written on it and we found it lying on the doormat on our front step. Someone must have discovered it on a local beach and cross referenced our name and phone number in the phone book to our address and dropped it off at our house. Nice.
So off we went to Steveston in Richmond and purchased ourselves a new trap ($100) and–learning from our past experience–sinking line ($100). We also got an orange plastic bait container to contain all the scraps we’d been saving in a ziplock back labelled “crab bait” that lived in our freezer. I was certain the crabs would find this orange bait container and the odours emanating from it irresistible!
Only to have a repeat of what we’d experienced so many times before. Dashed hopes and nothing, except for the odd starfish, which I always feel sorry for dropping back into the ocean (are starfish okay with the pressure changes as they drift down towards the bottom?)
I guess we’ll continue to fish for crab the way most urbanites do… by visiting our local fish market and having the clerk fish it out of a tank. But then again, we’ll probably try dropping our trap again in another six months. Ever hopeful that one day we’ll catch ourselves that $200 crab.