|Storm clouds moving over peninsula to river.|
A few days ago, Taylor picked me up from school, and we detoured through Oriental to stop by Endurance Seafood ("seafood so fresh it bites") to pick up some crab bait. Happily, we also discovered that Keith finally has fish. The ban on commercial fishing for red drum expired, so Keith had mounds of flounder. Is that confusing?
Flounder has been in season for over a month. Commercial fishermen catch them in nets. The red drum catch last year exceeded the annual quota, so the state closed the season for drum -- potentially until September -- to "repay" last year's overcatch. However, there have been so many drum in the river that the nets intended for flounder caught mostly drum. This is the fundamental challenge of managing a movable feast such as fish stocks: by-catch, the edible seafood "unintentionally" caught (nets are indiscriminate) and released, often dead, because out of season. The fishermen spent so much time culling the drum, live and dead, from the flounder that they decided not to net flounder at all. Now that the ban on drum has been lifted (a political, not biological, decision), the fishermen can keep both the flounder and the drum. The nets are out once again. Keith had a table full of flounder plus a few sheepshead; he had already sold the black drum.
Two days ago, we jumped into the pool for a few minutes as a big thunderstorm approached. No, we should not have, but we did as we often do on hellishly hot and humid summer afternoons. The plan was a dinner of steamed crabs under the clubhouse where the southwest wind is cool and keeps the bugs away. Butch and Chet accumulated more than a dozen crabs in the previous few days. They were steaming theirs. I steam ours as I pull them from the trap, and we had plenty as well.
As we waited for the crabs (and corn) to steam, we watched and listened to an approaching thunderstorm. Dark clouds and cracking thunder. Brilliant and jagged bolts of lightning ripping downward, tearing the sky. Dark water and shifting winds followed by rain blowing in heavy gray curtains, hammering the creek into a dull bone white. Torrential rain pushing a river of runoff across the concrete under the clubhouse.
|Storm approaching over WCYC.|
Then, suddenly, it stopped. Just in time to eat, a pleasant breeze chilling us all. Fresh blue crabs (red after steaming). Chunks of blackish claw meat and the white backfin meat firm and sweet with "mustard", savoring each morsel pulled from the claws or cartilage. I smiled to myself knowing that, even as we ate, the new bait was tempting new crabs into our traps. So I hoped.
Hale Kai and Katkandu returned this week. Bill has his Bahamas out island home dried in. Mark has met enough new friends over the winter to take a break (not really). These two, like many of the boats that cruise south for the winter, are back later than usual because it remained cold so deep into spring this year. It is good to have them back. Each brings good tales and lots of laughs.