Shrimp On!

Now that the sun has finally decided to return to our little corner of the world, let the Summertime Adventures commence!  This is the 2017 shrimp report, as it happened.  🙂

This Saturday marked the end of one of our favorite Spring/Summer activities, Shrimping in Hood Canal.   We have been going there to shrimp for three years, so we have our favorite spots and certainly know what we’re doing.  At the Hood Canal, it is only permitted four days per year, from 9 am to 1 pm, period, there are no exceptions.  This last Saturday was day four of four.

The first day of the four was a tragic miss.  The boys made reservations in October to go charter Halibut fishing on May 6th, and wouldn’t you know it, May 6th was the first designated shrimping day.

I was happy to give up a shrimping day just to see the photo above.  The boys had a great time on the charter and they all brought home a ton or fish.

No worries, we made plans to attend the other three, and attend them we did.  🙂

Wednesday, May 10th we headed out to Hood Canal at 6:30 am.  With us on the boat that day was Dunc.  He had never been shrimping before, but was so excited, as were we.  We did so well last year, and we managed to stock away 640 shrimp in the freezer, enough to last all year.

Shrimping is a lot like crabbing.

Bait the pot. (The bait is a seriously smelly mix of cat food, shrimp bait nuggets, fish fuel and canned mackerel, whipped into a frenzy and left outside in a bucket for a few weeks for proper rottenness).  After baiting, the pot is dropped into 250-325 feet of water for about an hour before pulling it up to check the catch.

It takes about an hour to bait and drop all four pots initially.  There’s a lot of stumbling around, and “get me more rope” and “I need another link”.  The best one is, “You will probably want a pair of those latex gloves, because you’re going to bait the pot”.

By the time we got back to the first pot, we were all eager to check the fancy special spot, in front of the house with the blue tarp (it’s a big deal, don’t tell anyone).

I took the the pulling position first, mostly just to show Dunc how the process happens, there’s no way he won’t get it immediately, but a visual aid is the best teacher.

The boat is equipped with a pot puller, it looks like a small wheel rim (literally from a wheelchair) that slowly spins and helps pull the pot up from the bottom.  Just about all shrimp and crab boats have them, in one incarnation or another.

You go ahead and try pulling up a shrimp or crab pot by hand from 300 feet down, I promise that you won’t do it very many times.

The thing about the pot puller though, is that if there are any splices, knots or links in the line, you have to remove the line from the pulley and puller, then replace it past the offending spot, otherwise, like on that first day of shrimping, the link may get caught up in the pulley.

I did stop the wheel at the first link on that first pot, but my Rooster, seeing it was a small one, told me to go ahead and bring it through, small ones have made it through before, plenty of times.

As soon as that link touched the pulley, the rope snapped.  The pot was lost immediately.  There was no way to catch it, resulting in a $200 (at least) loss of gear.  🙁

That loss did little to sour the mood.  It was certainly sad, and we were down a pot for the day, meaning less chance of a full catch, but accidents happen and there would be no more links run through the pot puller.

We continued to pull up and reset the pots, getting 25-30 shrimp per pull.  Being down a pot meant we had to move a little faster if we were going to make our limits (80 per person, so 240 for the boat).

On the third round of pot pulling, we discovered another pot missing!

That did put a damper on things.  It was either stolen by some of those sketchy teens in rowboats, or fell off of a shelf underwater, likely the second, but arguably the first.

Super Giant Bummer.  Another $200 worth of gear, sacrificed to the gods of the Pacific Ocean.

That first day of shrimping for 2017 resulted in a total catch of 175 shrimp.  We gave Dunc two bags to enjoy with his beautiful wife Connie.  100 to the freezer.  We had one week to recoup, re-gear and form a strategy for the next day of Shrimping.

On Wednesday May 17th, we were granted that chance.  On that day Sandy and her son Wyatt joined us on the boat.  The maximum amount of people we like to take on the boat for shrimping is four, so there is a possibility of two guests.  Don’t get me wrong, we can take more people on the boat, but when there are four shrimp pots, and several bins of rope, bait and bouys that’s all she can take without being so crowded that no one can move around.

There were two new pots on board that day, replacing the lost pots of the week before.  My fabulous Rooster had spent several hundred dollars and a few hours of his time putting them together.  A lost pot means more than a pot, it’s rope (lead line), it’s bait boxes, it’s caribeaners (sp? LOL) and pulleys, it’s buoys too.  That’s a lot of money and a lot of work.  He was not very happy to have to do it, but that’s the price of play.

It was a pretty uneventful day on the water, with the exception of losing another pot.  We just couldn’t believe the luck.  We lost one of the brand new ones, lost to the sea……  My Rooster was markedly more upset this time.

OK, not markably more upset in that picture, but he really got crabby.  (LOL)

All in all we caught 202 shrimp on that day, the boat max was 320.  Sigh.  60 went to Sandy and Wyatt…….

There was one day of shrimping left.  Saturday.

Friday evening after work, we headed to Hood Canal to spend the night.  Terry had rented a house for the weekend, not far from our shrimping grounds, which overlooked the water.  The plan was to stay there for the night so that we wouldn’t have to get up at 5 am Saturday to drive out to Hood Canal.  For $50 my Rooster was promised the master bedroom, a deal not to be passed up, we would have surely spent more on any hotel room in town.

Of course, when we arrived, we found out that the master bedroom had been double booked.  The excuse being “Rooster and Joy stay up all night and party, they don’t need the bedroom”.  Sheesh, whatever……  It was a beautiful evening on the water. We ended up on an Aerobed (read: big giant squeeky balloon) in the living room.  They were right though, many went to bed before we did that night.  🙂

Saturday morning arrived with the gorgeous bright sunlight shining through the wrap around windows, promising a beautiful day.  We were up at 6 am, dressed and headed up the road to the boat launch.

My Rooster and I had the boat in the water by 7:30, and started getting traps ready.  Our guests on the boat Saturday were Michelle and Andy, good friends of ours, who drove up Saturday morning, following Maury and Donna, who also drove up for the final day of shrimping, though Maury of course brought his own boat.

I cannot begin to describe how beautiful it was out.  See for yourself.

We averaged 25 shrimp per pot, with the largest being about 35.  Last year our largest pot contained 112 shrimp.  Don’t get me wrong, we do have plenty of shrimp in the freezer, but we could have gotten more.   Perhaps it’s just a poor year for shrimp, or maybe they have a new favorite area.  The good news is that we came home with all four pots.  The bad news is that we came back with only 125 shrimp.  50 to Michelle and Andy.

When 1 o’clock came around, it was full speed ahead to the dock.  We needed to get out of the water and on the road as soon as possible.  At 5:30 pm there was a surprise wedding reception in our backyard.  On any other shrimping day, we are out of the water and home by 3 pm, which is what we had planned on Saturday as well.

Since it was the last day for shrimping, there were lots of boats on the water and while we had access to a private launch, so did a few others.  We waited about an hour for our turn to pull the boat out.  Then, when we got on the road, about half a mile up Hwy 101 there had been an accident between a car and a truck with a boat.  The boat had come off of the trailer and was lying in the middle of the two lane highway. Luckily it happened at an intersection so there were police officers diverting traffic around the mess, culminating in only a short delay.

We cruised on to I-5, we were entering Olympia and felt good about time, even though we were running behind, until we saw the electronic billboard announcing a collision ahead, with blocked lanes.  I don’t have to tell you that it wasn’t long before traffic reached a complete stop.

My Rooster, he is an ever hopeful problem solver, and we quickly left the freeway and headed home via Lacey/Yelm/Roy.  When we finally arrived it was ten minutes after four.  But you can read about that in my next blog post.  🙂

 

 

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