Ralph called, "Doing anything Captain?" he asked.
"Of course not - I'm ready to hit the sack is all," was my reply.
"Want a change of pace?"
"Sure, what did you have in mind?" I was hoping for an invitation to his favorite bass pond.
"Crabbing over on Spruce Creek. We can get in near where my sister-in-law lives."
"Crabbing? Yeah, I suppose so."
"We'll have a great time. And, we can see if any baby tarpon are lounging around."
It wasn't a bad idea. After all I hadn't been crabbing in a long time and the relaxation
would be good. Ralph would be primed with some new jokes and we could sit on
our paint buckets and talk away the evening. It would be a good break from the
fly-fishing. When I arrived at Ralph's house, he was just putting the last two string
crab traps in his trunk. There where four 5 gallon paint buckets, gloves, string,
pliers, rubber-bands, some newspapers, old garden gloves and a fresh bag of
chicken wings for bait.
Crab traps are simple contraptions made from loose netting. A piece of tin, that
holds the bait, is secured in the center of the trap. When the line is attached, the
side netting pulls up and closes the occupants. It is very efficient and can hold
about two or three large blue crabs. Cheap chicken wings work best since the
smell really attracts crabs.
All ready, we set off for Ralph's sister's house. We drove east on Taylor Road
and into the Spruce Creek development of Port Orange. Spruce Creek is a long
stream that starts deep in Samsula and flows easterly to the Inter-coastal
Waterway near the airport in New Smyrna Beach. This creek meanders
and winds its way into a brackish water estuary. The creek is tidal throughout
most of its reach, except for the extreme westerly locations it is less salty.
The construction of the Turnbull Bay Bridge pretty much closed all boat
traffic back into the creek where there are schools of redfish, sea trout,
snook, jacks, tarpon, mudfish, black bass, largemouth bass, and gar.
There are also alligators, snakes, turtles and other reptiles.
Ralph and I arrived at his sister's house around 5 pm. We would have daylight
for another 3 hours. The dry air would keep the mosquitoes down while we
crabbed along a mud flat. We looked like a couple of beggars as we carried
our buckets and equipment to the edge of the primitive boat ramp. We set
up the traps and gave each a heave into the creek bed, allowing them to sink
to the bottom.
Every once in awhile you could see a string move and that was a sign there
was a crab in the trap. Snatching the line, I pulled one trap up through the
mud to find two nice sized crabs. The crabs were dropped into a bucket
and the routine repeated. After an hour we had collected about two buckets
of crabs. So I volunteered to take those buckets back to the house while
Ralph worked the other two nets.
When I returned, I was surprised to see Ralph on the flat knee deep in mud
struggling to pull one of the traps in.
"What's happening? Looks like you've got a huge crab in your net."
"You think this is funny?"
"What's the problem? Is the trap stuck on something?" I asked.
"No. It isn't stuck. Get over here and help me."
"I'll get all dirty," I replied.
"Come on and help me pull this redfish in."
"Yes, redfish. After you left a big redfish grabbed the chicken wing that was
sticking out of the side of the net and wouldn't let it go."
"There is a redfish on the end of the net?"
"Yes. Let's both get him in."
Who would have ever guessed that a redfish would like chicken wings. It sure
was a beauty, over the slot limit at 32 inches. We tugged and tugged on the line.
For twenty minutes we played tug-of-war with a redfish, neither side giving in.
Until the redfish finally realized he wasn't going to get the chicken. Wow. What
an interesting night crabbing.
Catch & Release: Protect the Species. ~ "Doug"
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.