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On Father’s Day yesterday, I got to spend the day crabbing, one of my favorite things from childhood. When I was a kid, I would spend all day, literally from sun-up to sundown, on the Magothy river catching Maryland Blue Crabs. It was great to do it again, but made even more special because my family was with me.

We crabbed all day from the dock of a cottage Melanie rented for us, and then in the late afternoon, we steamed them in vinegar and old bay, piled them on the table, and ate until they were gone. It was glorious.

My children love eating crabs, and I was talking to Brett, my 22-year-old son, the day before we came to the river, and I told him that the crabs we would catch and eat would be the best tasting crabs he ever had. Now this is a tall order because he has eaten crabs many times in his life. But I had no doubt this would be true. As we were eating them he said over and over that these WERE the best crabs he ever ate.

You see, when you spend all day catching the crabs, they taste better automatically because they are the fruit of your own effort. We always appreciate something more when we have worked hard and earned it. This applies to everything in life. Of course, the crabs are fresher too, because instead of sitting in a boat, then a truck, then a refrigerator, for potentially days, before they are steamed and eaten, these were in the water, in a live well until an hour before they were cooked. They were as fresh as they can get…physically they will be better…but to have something fresh in life, we still have to go get it! The actual physical difference in the crabs comes from the same lesson.

We always appreciate something more when we have worked hard and earned it.

We used chicken necks on twine to crab. This is where you tie a length of twine (I like to use about 12 feet) onto the dock pole, and you tie on the chicken neck, and you throw it as far away from the dock as it will reach (into about 4 to 8 feet of water). When the crab grabs the chicken, the line goes tight because the crab is trying to take it somewhere else where other crabs can’t try to take it away. Then you have to gently pull the line up to the top and dip the crab up with a long-poled net. Many crabbers prefer to use small traps that you bait with a chicken neck. This is more of a sure thing, when the crab comes into the trap you just pull it up. No skill involved. I like the sporting part of the lines and the net, because it is more challenging and requires a little skill (not much). The traps are also limited in that you can’t throw them away from the dock, but must drop them straight down…this limits the amount of water you can crab. Life is like this too…the safer the bet, the less reward potential.

Life is like this too…the safer the bet, the less reward potential.

As with most things in life that are worth it, this kind of crabbing takes patience, perseverance, and persistence. You have to be patient when you are pulling a crab to the top. The crab is simply holding on with claws to the chicken…it can let go at any time…you must be gentle and feel the situation…is he losing grip? Is he pulling hard? The temptation is to just pull him to the top…without patience you won’t get many to the top. The netting part also takes patience. The closer to the top the crab is, the easier to net. Ahhh, but you can see the crab before you should net the crab. You must be patient to let him come closer, while you are dealing with the anticipation of netting him…self-control and discipline are needed here.

You must wait through the times when they don’t bite or when all you catch are little ones. You have to endure the discouragement of having a big one drop off before you can dip him, because he saw you or the sun got in his eyes…or worse, you MISSED him. There’s lots more lessons, but I’m mostly on vacation this week so I need to go now. What a wonderful day with many lessons and a great thing to do with your family. I loved that my daughter Allie, was taking a raw chicken neck and putting it on the line when we needed fresh bait and that both Brett and Allie seemed to have as much fun as I used to…and still do.

Try crabbing some time…it’s fun, you might learn a few things, and the final result is quite tasty:-)


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