In May, We SLAY……. the Seafood

I’m thinking about opening a pop up Seafood market.  🙂

This month our laundry room smells like salt water and fish guts, which is not what I like any room of our home to smell like.  But I accept the slight discomfort in exchange for the fact that our garage freezer is packed to the brim with fresh fish flesh.

We spent much of the winter and early spring weekends digging for razor clams.  The poundage available for further iterations of my (non) winning clam chowder will last all year.  There was a bonus dig May 10th, a weekend we were enjoying at Ocean Shores anyway.

I did not dig clams that day, as the dig required getting out of bed on Sunday at 4:30 am.  I have processed closed to 100 pounds (a likely exaggeration) of razor clams this season and I have had enough clam guts and mysterious crystal rods of digestion slip through my fingers until next season, so I skipped it.  My Rooster and Maury though, they got up and got those yucky little guys.  My Rooster agreed that he would shuck and gut the clams he dug.

Lazy?  nope, I just like to sleep in, and I didn’t want any more clams.

Guess who ended up dealing with those clams anyway?  Yep, me.  I am such a good woman.  Sigh.

Next up in our month of killing all things seafood, my favorite of all favorites.  SHRIMPING!

Yep, my pop up store will have shrimp again this year.  On the 15th, My Rooster and I and Kyle set out to Hood Canal early in the morning for our first shrimp run of 2019.

It was a gorgeous day, and the water was glass.

Shrimping in the Hood Canal is no joke, you’ve got to know your rules.  It’s only four days per year, from 9 am to 1 pm, with a limit of 80 shrimp per person.

If you’ve never been shrimping, it’s much like crabbing, where you bait pots and send them down with lots of stinky bait (the stinkier the better).  The difference lies in the pots (the holes are smaller) and in the depth.  We drop shrimp pots into a minimum 250 of water, making a pot puller necessary.  The very first time you pull up a shrimp pot from 250 feet down by hand, you will understand.

I digress though, from the mundane rules and facts.  My favorite thing about shrimping, is ripping their heads off!  Shrimp heads, it’s not what’s for dinner.  🙂

We did well on that first outing, getting limits for all three of us.  240 shrimp died on the Rooster boat that day.

We returned home, unscathed and ready for the next adventure, and the next one…… It’s a doozy.

Over Memorial Day weekend we headed out to Neah Bay.  For me (and everybody else), this is the most perilous catch of the year.  I am not a deep ocean fisherwoman.  So much not in fact, that I refuse to fish out of Westport, since just the thought of riding in the boat 30 miles out into the ocean for some fish makes me green around the gills.

Yep, that’s right, I’m a puker.  I’d sooner go to the store and buy fish than throw up all day.  Seasick is absolutely the worst sick you can be, in my humble opinion.

At Neah Bay, it isn’t necessary to drive out into the deep ocean to catch the big daddy Halibut, sometimes they are caught right near the shore, and on a bad day, it’s only about ten miles you have to go out.

Equal to the amount of hatred I have for driving out into the wild blue yonder, is my LOVE of catching big fish.

Tuesday the 21st we loaded up groceries, lots of clothing, many dvd’s (since there is nothing to do in Neah Bay but fish and sleep) and headed out in the evening with the goal of making it halfway.

My Rooster and I spent the night at the Safeway in Port Angeles (in the RV dorks).  I couldn’t help but feel like one of those broken down homeless RV’s you see around Tacoma and particularly around Spanaway, squatting in the big parking lots, trying to make something out of a bad situation, or more likely trying to find a place to do heroin.

Prior to reading your comments on this, we don’t do heroin and the RV is not in the least bit broken down looking.

All the same, I couldn’t help but feel like that’s who we had become.  Thankfully, the homeless RV phenomenon does not appear to have reached Port Angeles, we were the only overnight squatters.

The next morning, we got up early, had Safeway whore baths :), breakfast burritos and hit the road for the final two hour drive to Neah Bay.

Upon arrival we set up camp and awaited Maury’s arrival, since he was bringing the boat.  We didn’t wait long and the boys set their sights across the street and upon launching the boat, getting a dock space in the Marina and getting things ready for fishing Thursday morning.

Inside the Marina we discussed the whereabouts of the Halibut and the Ling Cod with the staff, we studied the map, the boys spent way too long trying to figure out the relationship between the dock diagram and the actual dock.

I paid too much attention to the comments about how rough the water was going to be on Thursday.  Apparently “choppy” is a key word, but not as key as my new least favorite ocean conditions word “swell”.  🙁

It’s amazing how long things take to set up.

That day, and the days to follow, my focus was less on fishing and more on Focus itself.  Focus Grasshopper.

I am a seasick person.  Particularly when there is a large amount of Swell, and it was guaranteed to be a Swell sort of day, and I don’t mean that in a positive way.

I had taken every precaution.  I obtained some Scopalamine Seasick patches, only available by prescription, or in my case available via a mutually prone to seasickness friend (Thanks Donna!), who happened to have a few stashed away.  My arsenal also contained ginger ale, ginger gum, ginger sliced candy, Dramamine and the Seasick bracelets.  For me and the ocean, seasickness isn’t a question of if, it’s a question of when.

Overkill? I think not.

I also prepared myself by getting a good night’s sleep, having no drinks the night before and having something to eat for breakfast.  Yes, I applied the seasickness patch 12 hours before heading out in the boat.

THURSDAY-

Head out in the boat we did.  It was 6 am, the skies were gray and the tiniest bit ominous, the wind was blowing, the sea was choppy and my prayers were raised most high.

I was good for a while, but those darn boys and their need to go after the Halibut pushed us 11 miles out into the open ocean, to an area called Tabletop.  My Rooster proceeded to catch two mid sized Halibut, I held on for a while, and even fished for a good 45 minutes before the ocean swelling over my head and down below the boat over and over got the best of me.

After my first chumming, I tried fishing again, which didn’t last long.  After my second chumming, which was only some foamy ginger ale, I was done, I could do nothing but brace myself in my seat with my eyes closed and pray for the rapture.  Once the third wave came, a delightful few minutes of dry heaving I was sincerely done.

The boys took pity on me, and we returned to shore.  Now I know that the story of Thursday has gone fast, but it was almost 4 pm before we returned to camp.  My Rooster elated with his 40 pounds of Halibut filets, Maury not pleased with no fish but happy for more chances in the coming days and then there was me…… pretty miserable with a undercoating of unending joy for being back on shore.

FRIDAY-

Much the same weather made me decide that I would stay ashore and let the boys fish to their hearts content.  First of all, I didn’t have to get up at 5 am.  After sleeping in, taking a shower and cleaning up the RV, I headed out up the road on foot to the Makah Museum.

I’m glad I went, I learned a lot about the history of the Makah.  And to keep with the theme of my story, I’ll just leave you with a little bit of new knowledge.

There were no land mammals for the Makah to get fur from for their clothing (besides bears).  They bred dogs, whose fur they mixed with cattail fibers and duck down to spin into yarn.  Very creative.  This also explains why there are so many community dogs running around town today.  All well taken care of and well fed, you would hardly know they were strays.

The other amazing fact I took away from the museum was that the Makah were great eaters of Seagull eggs, and still are.  There’s an island, only reachable by boat that the Seagulls nest on.  The museum docent told me that the natives still go there to get Seagull eggs and that if I asked any of them, they would surely tell me they have all eaten them.

Three seagulls’ eggs in nest, close-up

Unfortunately, we never docked on that island, or I would be able to tell you how they taste.

My Rooster caught another Halibut and Maury caught a Ling Cod and some Rock Fish.

SATURDAY-

Saturday was a bottomfish day, which meant Ling Cod, Rock Fish and Cabezon.  I took all precautions again and took off fishing with the boys.  I am pleased to announce that I outfished them both!  I caught a total of 7 fish that day, including the only Cabezon (8.75 lbs!), my Rooster caught 4 and Maury caught 2.  I managed to stave off the seasickness until the very end of the day and it was hardly a blip on the radar!  Hooray, but not that surprising since bottomfish are fairly close to shore, so I wasn’t privy to the Swell as much.  The water was still rough.

SUNDAY-

Last day for fishing.  It was the best day weatherwise.  Rather than subject myself again to the rigors of the deep I chose to stay behind again.  In some ways I wish that I hadn’t, the water was smooth and the sun was shining.  But without me, those boys could go as deep as they wanted and Maury still needed to get some Halibut.  I felt like a ball and chain, and set my sights elsewhere to let them go on their own.

I walked out in the other direction and found where the Eagles live in Neah Bay.  There must have been 150 of them roosting on the shallow rocks and crashing through the trees.  I took a long walk along the jetty as far as it went and when I came back to camp, I finished the book I had brought along to read.  It was a peaceful day.

The boys came back around 2pm surprisingly enough.  Maury had caught two Halibut and was super pleased with himself.  Since the water was calm enough, I went back out with them later in the afternoon.  No one caught anything on that evening bite, but it was a beautiful evening boat ride just the same.

We headed home Monday with a million tons of fish to fill the RV freezer, Maury’s camper freezer and a cooler.

This weekend we are headed back to Hood Canal, Shrimping with Vinnie and Dawn.  What a tough life we lead.  🙂

Oh yeah, and we’ve been crabbing too.

It was definitely a May to Slay (Seafood)!

2 Replies to “In May, We SLAY……. the Seafood”

  1. Seagull eggs are delicious! It’s been years since I’ve had them though! I however am quite jealous of your stocked freezers of seafood!

  2. Sounds like a busy yet relaxing time! Years ago i used to fish the sound but never desired going fishing in the ocean with our small boat. Excellent writin Smartypants, you know how to place the reader in your experience as if right there with you! Oh, and when are you having halibut? Thank you for sharing!! Tina

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