Trip report #15 – If it’s Friday, this must be Waldport

Dear Readers – last I wrote, Scott and I were just outside Yellowstone National Park. We’d hiked, we’d seen wildlife and we’d taken hundreds of photos. We’d also tired of cold weather (single-digit temps at night) and having to unhook our hose every night to prevent our water lines from freezing.

So with snow in the air and the RV park we were staying in preparing to close for the season, we consulted our atlas and The Weather Channel.

Phoenix still was seeing temps in the 90s – no, thank you! Utah and New Mexico seemed better choices for a warmer time of year. And with the holidays approaching and at least one child coming for Thanksgiving, Florida would have to wait.

So we hitched up, got back in the truck and drove about a thousand miles west. Two nights in Boise, Idaho, then another in Bend, Ore. and we now find ourselves back on the Oregon coast.

I am delighted as I love it here. Scott, however, is questioning the sanity of our decision as it’s rained 7 of the last 8 days. I tell him to consider this time as “research,” as I need to determine whether I can happily live in this climate after enjoying sunshine for the nearly 30 years I’ve been in Phoenix. I’m pretty sure I can but we’re spending another five days here to make sure 😉

Rain and all, we’ve enjoyed walks on the beach, eating the freshest fish and seafood imaginable, and exploring new sights, restaurants and microbrews.

And yesterday, our one sunny day, we went crabbing.

We found a little place on the Alsea Harbor in Waldport that rented us everything we needed – the crab rings, the bait and the tool to measure the size of our catch. (You have to throw back all females and males of an insufficient size as measured by this tool. I later learned that here in Oregon, the male crabs must be a minimum of 5-3/4 inches across and you can take up to 12 Dungeness crabs per day. You can distinguish males from females by the shape of the tail portion of their shell.)

When asked which bait we wanted to use, we hesitated. I had never been crabbing before and had no idea what our options were or what was best. Scott was looking at the crab rings, trying to figure out how they worked, so he didn’t hear the question.

That hesitation likely caused us one very unpleasant experience but I’ll get to that in a minute.

We trudged out onto the dock with crab rings, a bucket, our measuring tool, a couple of beers, a folding chair and two packages of bait wrapped in  newspaper.

As we’d been instructed, Scott used twine to tie the bait to the center of the rings, wrapped the lines around the dock cleats and heaved the rings over the side. We dutifully checked them every 20 minutes or so. But every time, we came up empty or with crabs too small to keep. While soaked with sea water, the newspaper was still wrapped around the bait so we figured it was still good to use.

Meanwhile, we couldn’t help noticing a very enthusiastic couple down the dock from us who whooped it up every time they landed a big crab. Dammit! They had 7 or 8 by the time we decided we should introduce ourselves and inquire about the secret to their success.

No doubt fueled by the large bottle of whiskey in their folding chair, they happily shared that they used chicken for bait, marinating it overnight in herring and shrimp oil. Ok, that was a bit much to take in (and smell) but after seeing them hit their limit of 12 before we’d pulled up a good-sized male, we headed back into the little shop for more bait.

“What did I give you before?” said the lady helping us.

“Meat,” Scott said.

“Meat? You mean mink?” she said.

Scott just looked at me. I had heard her say “mink” before, but he had no idea we’d been crabbing with mink carcasses.

“Let’s try chicken,” he said. And she gave us what I think were two chicken backs and another crab ring.

We tied the chicken to the third ring, hurled it over the side and 20 minutes later, pulled up four crabs.

Meanwhile, the mink bodies were starting to work free from their newspaper casings, and we both were horrified to see little mink bodies with protruding legs and arms.

To be fair, now that the mink were exposed to the water, they were successfully luring crab into our rings. And while most of our catch were females and none of the males were large enough to take home, we caught more than 20 crabs in our three rings.

We’d asked the woman helping us what we should do with the bait when we were finished. She told us to just throw it into the bay and the sea gulls would take care of it. This worked great for the chicken, but when the gulls ripped into the mink, there arose such a tremendous skunk-like stench that we nearly tossed our breakfasts and our Pabst Blue Ribbons.

Once he was able to speak again, Scott asked what we were smelling.

“I’m pretty sure it’s the scent glands,” I told him. (Internet research confirmed I was right as I found a site that identifies the glands and instructs readers on how to remove them and harvest their contents for use as a hunting lure. OH. MY. GAWD.)

And now you know why Scott’s new nickname is “Mink.”

All kidding aside, it was all in good fun and the shop owner was so sweet. She did not want us to be disappointed and gave us a beautiful Dungeness crab she had caught and cooked earlier that morning. If we have time and weather permits, we may try crabbing again.

BUT NOT WITH MINK!

 


Waldport on Dwellable

8 Comments

  1. ed
    Oct 27, 2012

    Oh my I will have to make sure I remind Scott of his new name when he gets home. To funny!

  2. Janie
    Oct 27, 2012

    Ed – the mink episode was so funny – you would have DIED laughing! Scott is being a pretty good sport about being called “Mink.”

  3. Torre
    Oct 27, 2012

    Ugggg brings back memories of my 1st time crabbing – sis and her DH were in town and went crabbing 1 day. I went with them the next at an ungodly dark hour – we had to tie the chicken bait on and they were using the leftovers from the previous day…. Oh.my.god. The smell – worse than anything I’ve ever smelled and I used to work for veterinarians LOL. got lots of crabs though and they were yummy!

  4. Scott
    Oct 28, 2012

    It’s Mr. Mink to my friends. My enemies don’t want anything to do with mink.

  5. Scott
    Oct 28, 2012

    P.S. It is so grey here on the Oregon coast that one can’t tell the sky from the ocean – and with water coming at you from every direction it really doesn’t matter much.

  6. Liz
    Oct 31, 2012

    That’s funny. It’s too bad that the weather didn’t allow you to give it another go. It’s easy to get hooked once you start hauling in keepers. We could’ve stayed out there all day.

  7. Danielle
    Nov 13, 2012

    Sounds like a blast and reminds me of a childhood memory crabbing down at the Jersey shore. Remind me to tell you sometime. And, uh, we used chicken and caught 217 crabs!! 🙂

  8. Jane
    Jul 11, 2013

    Hi Janie!
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Waldport to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!
    Jane

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