I lived in Maine for a few years when I was a baby and toddler. Once we moved, I would visit every summer. The rocky shore of Maine is a perfect place to explore when you’re a little kid and I would spend all day along the edge of the ocean turning over rocks, scooping up hermit crabs and searching for sea glass. One of my favorite activities to do, however, was crabbing.
Crabbing involves wading into knee deep water and pushing aside thick ropes of seaweed to find mussel beds wedged into deep crevices in the rocks. I would rip these innocent mollusks from their home and carry them up to a seaweed covered rock that jutted into the water. Crabbing is done best at mid-tide – either coming in or going out – but deep enough that the large crabs that hide in the deep water at low tide would be crawling about searching for food.
I would smash the mussel with a large rack I carried from the upper shore. The shells would crack and split just enough to thread a bent-open paper clip through the flesh. A long string attached to the paper clip and a stick served as a crabbing pole, so to speak. Once done, a quick flick of the wrist sent the line into the water. It was easier to spot a crab taking the bait if I dropped the line out from the rock a bit, but the best crabs were caught closer to the rocks where the seaweed flowed and swirled with the tide obscuring the line and mussel.
Pulling up the line as slowly as possible was the trick to keeping potential captives on the line. Once the crabs were out of the water they tended to jump from the bait and make a quick panicked run into the seaweed. If you were quick enough, you’d drop them into the waiting bucket before they tried to escape. If you were me, you’d squeal with delight and then drop the crab and line and then kick over the bucket in your excitement to try to recatch the one that got away.
After a successful day of crabbing or when the tide was getting too low or high, the crabs would be counted and unceremoniously dumped back into the ocean. These weren’t eating crabs, just your average everyday rock crabs and most weren’t much bigger than a few inches across.
I took great pride and joy in introducing my girls to crabbing. Every time we go to Maine whole afternoons are spent on the rocks catching crabs. Then we let them go only to come back the next day to catch them all over again.
Note: I haven't actually come out and said it yet but my theme for the Blogging A to Z Challenge is "My Favorite Memories."