I went to Gulf Shores, Ala., for vacation and caught crabs. No, I am not referring to the body lice that you try to explain away by blaming the gas station toilet seat. Rather, I am talking about the Atlantic Blue Crab. (Did that freckle just move?!?!)
I would venture to say that when Hoosiers think of crabs, they think of Alaskan varieties of crab. After all, what other crustacean has it's own television show? (I refer to the show, "The Deadliest Catch." The crab in Sponge Bob Square Pants only plays a supporting role.)
For reasons utterly unknown to me, Alaskan crabs grow to the size of something in a 1950s "B" horror movie. Because of their size, they are more economically worthwhile to transport to Midwest restaurants than the humble Blue Crab. Blue Crabs generally run in sizes from a large open hand to a small dinner plate.
In my humble opinion, all crabs should be regulated by the FDA as butter delivery devices. If there was a more succulent method of delivering melted butter to the human posterior than crab legs, I have yet to find it.
My daughter-in-law is an honest to goodness chef. She and two of my sons joined my wife and I on our vacation. Her vacation goals included cooking and eating indigenous gulf cuisine. When she learned that the people walking the beach at night with flashlights and buckets were catching crabs, this became a MUST on the ole' to do list.
Having caught crabs as a much younger man (again, the crustacean, not body lice), I was drafted into the expedition. Unfortunately, I was not consulted prior to the purchase of the requisite gear.
As dusk was approaching, my beloved and I were sitting on our balcony watching the sea birds and waves when our daughter-in-law proudly bounded into the condo with her newly purchased crab-catching equipment; a bucket, two flashlights, and a small net on a stick.
When I went crabbing in the past, we went out during the daytime on a dock or pier over a salt bayou. The equipment included a 12-16 inch round net in a metal hoop with a lead weight and a piece of spoiled meat tied in the center. Three lines were tied to the metal hoop and knotted together so that when held by the knot, the hoop looked like it was suspended from a tripod. This in turn was tied to a long line which allowed the net to be lowered to the bottom.
Once the net was flat on the bottom, crabs would come scurrying from all around and even fight with each other to get into the net to feast on the spoiled meat. When one or more were in the net, simply raise it out of the water, grab the nasty bugger by one of the rearmost legs, then drop it into a potato sack hanging over the side in the water, and repeat.
Unfortunately, I fear that our daughter-in-law was sold a "Yankee net." The merchant must have seen her coming and said, "lookee thar, here comes another Yankee. Sell her one of them net-on-a-stick thingies for way too much money." As far as I could tell, the main purpose of a Yankee net is to catch a Yankee's money, not crabs. Fortunately, they didn't sell her a crab call or a set of pincers to rattle together like crabs fighting on the beach.
With flashlights, bucket, and Yankee net in hand, she and I set out into the dark surf in search of the elusive Blue Crab.
If you have ever gone frog giging you know that when you shine a light in a frog's eyes, it stays perfectly still hoping you won't see it. Apparently, crabs are not so well informed. As it turns out, crabs in the water are remarkably agile (kinda like aquatic tarantulas). When shined, they zip away.
Crabs are much less agile on land. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any high and dry on the beach. Either the crabs spotted our flashlights from a distance or we may have smelled a little too much like garlic and butter. (I hear tell that crabs have very sensitive noses!)
Sadly, the melted butter that night went to no better purpose than popcorn. Happily, area restaurants were well supplied with both Blue Crab and butter.
I have been told that plans are to head back to the beach next year. We are hanging onto that Yankee net just in case.