Sun, March 18, 2018
 16 Pages
The Region's Agri-Business Newspaper Volume 27, Number 6 
50 cents 

Agri-Times NW

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Back Forty
by Roger Pond
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by Brianna Walker
Janie's Journal
by Janie Tippett
Outdoor Scoop
by J.R. Groupe

Outdoor Scoop

Crabbing in the San Juans
by J.R. Groupe

The first week of August Mrs. Groupe and I accepted a gracious offer to join four couples on a trip to Orcus Island that is part of the noted San Juan Islands situated between Seattle and Vancouver Island. Being the twelfth annual adventure for the core group, the travel, shopping, meal preparation and daily activities flowed smoothly like a freshly greased gear. We rented a very large house and towed a motor boat to facilitate our focal point…fishing for Dungeness crab.

Months prior to departure considerable effort goes into gathering bait for the crab traps. The better crab bait is definitely offensive, repulsive and disgusting which goes without saying. The exact flavor that best pleases the crustacean's pallet is where the big debate lies. Our coolers were brimming with liver, old fish, venison, chopped shad and a few unknowns. The winning crab bait remains to be decided.

Possessing a month-long shellfish license, each fisherman may have two crab pots. Each pot must be secured with a rope and a red and white buoy marked clearly with the owners name and address. Each pot must have an escape door secured by untreated cotton string which will rot away in a few days if the pot is lost. This prevents a lost trap from becoming a perpetual death trap. Each fisherman can harvest five Dungeness crab daily which must be male and measure at least 6.25 inches across the back.

This popular fishery is carefully managed to offer satisfactory opportunity to recreational, tribal and commercial entities while maintaining a healthy crab population. We were limited to five days of the week while our traps had to be out of the water the remaining two. Tribal and commercial fishermen have their own set of rules. The yearly harvest in Puget Sound is 8-10 million crabs per year.

The guys would boat out twice a day and pull the traps from 30-40 feet of water. We would harvest the legal crab, re-bait the small wire bait box in the trap and gently ease the trap back into the frothy sea. We caught around 800 crabs and ended up with about 90 keepers. Back at the house a delegation carried our bucket of crab down to waters' edge. Each crab was whacked in a certain manner to kill it. Then the shell, gills and guts were removed. In the mean time another committee prepared a pot of boiling water over a propane burner in the yard. The bounty was boiled 15 minutes and the immediately iced down in a cooler. Once cooled, we gathered around a newspaper covered deck table. Armed with crab-crackers and picks, we removed the fresh meat from the shell.

Eating, of course, is the premier component of any outdoor activity. Great feasts were prepared three times daily in the vast kitchen area. Offerings included crab scrambled eggs, crab sandwiches, crab louies and just plan crab.

Cool weather, great fellowship, comfortable accommodations, good crabbing, great scenery and enjoyable travels made for a fun vacation!

Editor's note: for a signed copy of J.R. Groupe's second book "My Eastern Oregon", a compilation of 78 outdoor stories, email or call 541-969-9831


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