Tall Tales and Short Stories

These are stories about different events in my life. Some are in fiction form due to the age of the writer at the time of the event in relation to the memory of the writer at the time of writing. Age does that sometimes. Enjoy the stories and provide some feedback.

Location: Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States

July 10, 2006

Totally Useless How-to's: Crabbing

Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, a popular pastime was crabbing. As kids, we would go to the beach or an inland waterway to set up a crabbing site. We would place a cooler and chairs in a central location. From there, we started spacing crab lines about every ten feet in each direction.

Crabbing is very easy and fun. On one end of the crab line you tie a brick or pole. On the other end; chicken parts. Personally, I like chicken necks. The ridges along the neck act as a natural barrier to the string sliding off. But, thigh bones and leg bones work very well, too. About a foot above the chicken part, tie a weight to the string, just big enough to drag the bait to the bottom.

Once the chicken part is tied, the task turns to placing the bait into the water. No successful crabber just throws the bait in and moves on. There is a science to this. Scout the waterway. Are there any bridge pilings or large concrete slabs? Crabs love concrete slabs and pilings. If not, look for runoff areas along the shore. Crabs will gather around a natural feeding area such as this.

When you have found your location, gather the string in one hand, careful to loop it so as to allow the string to easily pass from your hand when tossed. Keep the end with the bait in the other hand along with a short length of string. Now, gently swing the chicken part in the air until you have built up a rhythm. Once rhythm has been achieved, release the chicken part; at the same time opening the hand holding the looped string. (It is important to note that you should be facing the water and your target when performing this task.) Repeat this with each line.
When using numerous lines, you find occasions when crabs are biting heavily at one area. Often, this will be away from your cooler. Crabs have an incredible sense of direction. So placing them on the ground will allow them to escape. What are you to do when you have several crabs on several lines and nothing handy to put them in? Try this simple solution.

How to Put a Crab to Sleep

Materials needed:
  • 1 crab, at least 3" to tip to tip to be considered a keeper
  • 1 blade of grass, 6" to 8" in length with a tassel of seeds at the tip (Don’t worry; this type of grass is common on the Gulf Coast).

Firmly grasp a crab behind its pinchers. Carefully lay the crab on its back, making sure none of its legs are underneath the body. The crab will violently shake its legs in an attempt to turn over. Before the crab is able to right itself, take the blade of grass and gently rub across the underbelly of the crab in an oval motion.

Within a few minutes, the crab’s legs will slow in their movement. This is a sure sign of success. Continue until the crab’s legs have stopped moving. The crab is now asleep. If this fails, repeat process from the beginning until successful.

NOTE: If you watch closely you will see water bubbles come from the sleeping crab’s mouth. This is commonly referred to as a crab snore.


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