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Fiddling for Bait - Fiddler Crabs

Catching Your Own Bait Can Be Fun - Or not!


We had to walk so slowly that the crabs would completely avoid moving inside the “V”. Aha! We need a couple more boards to make the “V” wider! Off to the truck went John. Back with some boards, he made the “V” wider and we began again. This is where problem three popped up.

We found out how easily these little crabs, not much bigger than a quarter, can climb over a four-inch board. We are now two hours into this ordeal and the tide is coming in!

So we put our heads together and studied the situation. While we talked, it was as if they were all listening to us and watching us. We actually began talking in whispers, as if they could hear us! But the plan was this - we would slowly heard them away from the boards and then rush back and close all the holes anywhere in front of the boards. Then we could run at them and they had no place to go except between the boards. And so it was that John and I closed all the holes. We walked far from the boards, and began running in a zigzag fashion, whooping and hollering to get the crabs herded into the hole. And, do you know, it actually worked! We had a hole full of wet swimming crabs! This is where problem number four popped up.

I told John to put the bucket in the truck. He swears he did that and that it must have blown out – but either way we still had no bucket for the crabs. So with the crabs relatively calm and safe in the hole, we both head back up to the road to find something to hold the crabs. This is where the final straw was placed on the proverbial camel’s back.

“I’ve been watching you fellas for a while now,” he said. “You guys look kind of silly running around out there. Just what is it you were doing?” HE was the state park ranger, and he was parked right behind our truck on the side of the road.

“Oh we’re catching bait – fiddlers – and we got a hole full of them,” I said. “We just need something to put them in and we will be all set.”

The ranger was so nice, and he offered a cardboard box he had in his trunk. What a deal! We said thanks and started to head back to the crabs when he said, “Oh, one more thing.”

As he handed us a long yellow piece of paper, he said, “The court date is next month, so you’ll have time to use your bait. But next time, boys, you need to park somewhere else.”

I looked at the paper – a traffic violation in a state park – and then looked up at my truck. We had parked right in front of the “no parking” sign. Neither of us even saw it when we first arrived. I actually walked over to it to see if had been freshly placed, but alas, it was there long before we were!

We got our crabs, and caught our sheepshead. By the time we finished paying the parking fine, those crabs cost us about five dollars for an eight-ounce cupful.

The bait shop across the street sells them for three.

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