Sunday, June 14, 2009

Deep Sea Fishing for Rockfish and Crabbing

Today Brendan, Karen, Emily and I dragged our asses out of bed at 5am to go deep sea fishing off of Newport for Rockfish with Captain Steve De Mauro on the 50 foot Sea Venture of Newport Tradewinds fishing. The boat was scheduled to leave the docks at 7am so we had to get up super early to make it to the docks by 6:30 in Newport to sign in. Karen somehow had gotten up at 3am to do research so we met her at COAS around 5:30 in the morning. We quickly stopped at McDonalds on the way out of town and thanks to me driving nearly 75mph to Newport we made it by quarter of and were able to buy plenty of beer for our large cooler just before jumping on the boat for the morning. We had booked a 6
hour rock fishing cruise off the coast and Emily and I had bought two crab pots to throw out for Dungenese crab on the way out. We even got crabbing licenses from the business that are valid all year. As everyone boarded I and another customer watched another ship unloading what looked to tons of shrimp onto the docks. It was great being on the ocean again. We sailed out of Newport Harbor at about 7:30am and dropped crab pots just past the jetty. Then Captain Steve (who Doug recommended to us and who was also know to fire guns at sharks) took us to our first fishing location. One of the mates showed us how to use the rods and went over safety stuff before we left dock so I was anxious with my large New Castle beer to start fishing! Almost immediately I landed a decent sized rock fish and thought that we were off to a great start. All week long I had heard reports of boats catching their limit (7 fish each) within two hours and
then heading back to dock... not today. That lone fish was the only thing that took my line the entire morning. Emily on the other hand out-fished all of us by catching three large ones that dwarfed mine. Brendan was even able to land one just before we had to turn around and head back. Karen was just along for the ride. I’m not sure why the fish weren’t biting and Captain Steve seemed equally perplexed. The sea was eerily calm without any significant swells so maybe all the fish were just asleep!
On the way back under the beautiful sun and in pleasant temps Brendan and Karen fell asleep on the boat themselves until we reached our crab pots again. I was more than excited to help the mate pull in the 12 pots that everyone had thrown, thoroughly soaking my pants and shirt in
the process. On a few occassions several of the other young kids joined in to help but it was mostly me. One pot that we pulled in had an enormous crab in it that I definitely claimed for my own (crab in the photo here). Two of the cocky young kids kept saying that they claimed it and I simply shrugged them off. I helped the mate sort through the females and the males throwing back the females and those that were too small to keep (less than 4” across the widest part of the shell). It was the closest I’ll probably come to being a true crab fisherman! One pot that we pulled in had a huge starfish in it that ironically was captured in the process of eating a sand dollar!
Upon arriving back at the docks we paid a woman to fillet our fish for us as well as a man to steam the crabs for us right there on the dock. After he steamed them he tore off the shell carapice and scraped off the insides leaving just the legs. I’ve never
seen that done before... check out the video here. I asked him why people don’t eat that part of the crab and he offered me the shell full of juice which I happily sucked down to the disgust of those around me. I joked with him saying that I’d be bck to visit him at the docks later this summer for some more! Emily and I ended up with about 14 crabs. Considereing that they cost about $15-$20 at the store we did pretty well despite only coming home with 4 fish.
It was a beautiful day at sea and none of us got sea-sick at all. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant down the street owned by a former COAS student for some soup and fries. I got crab soup and it was nearly $10 for a small bowl which made me appreciate even more the pile of crabs awaiting us in the cooler I dropped in the truck. We drove down to Yaquina beach and hung out on the rocks looking for sea creatures for a little while before heading home for a BBQ at our place later. On the way home everyone in the car was passed out while I forced myself to stay awake and get us home safely. Seems to be typical for me out here... :)

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