(Written two days ago) And so later this morning I will descend on a certain beach in Marin County with the Boer kayak mafia. (You think I'm kidding but wait till you see a photo of these hardcore backwoods South African hunter gatherers). We will, weather permitting, drop our ten $19.99 Promar crab traps in several key locations in the vicinity of a well known cove north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Having done this, we will then paddle ashore, entertain ourselves for an hour or two, ("Dance! I command you, dance!") recite the works of Marcel Proust by memory (not) paddle back out (wind permitting) and haul in our limits (I speak with the confidence of recent success).
The rest is of the venture will be more challenging... for, the MFN is sad to report, that our storied fishwife, the great Camilladilla, has strictly forbade the cooking of dungeness crab inside MFN H.Q. Evidently the odor of crab "lingers for days and days" after I boil them here. Frankly, I did not notice. All olfactory sensations have been summarily burned out of my nasal passages by last year's longjaw
mudsucker fiasco. Words can not describe the deep personal holocaust which I willingly visited upon my poor, poor nose. Even now... even now, months later, having tasted the luke-warm, rough hewn flesh hacked from the living flanks of a wanton bottom dweller (see Oct 30th, "Leopard Shark Ceviche")... after having experienced the deeply disturbing after-burp of canned mudsuckers... Even now, thinking of the scent of those salt evaporation ponds, those purplish ponds of suppurating egret carcasses and fermented globs of dead brine shrimp... where day after ignominious day I set my traps, lugged my great hulking home made-traps into the living bird sewer that is pond # E-6, Central Evaporation Unit, Cargill Salt Production Facility 13... even now, I can't get the f---ing smell out of my nose! In fact the deep personal trauma I experienced on account of that smell compels me to lapse poetic once more... for only in the blissful strains of verse can I hope to recapture the terrors of those miserable, sweltering, foetid bogs. Only in the sweet lines of poetry can I describe the unspeakable juice that splashed up under my chassis, laquering the bottom of my truck with a bird guano/brine shrimp solution that was soon baked into a miserable, feathery crust. A crust of shame. And so...
MFN Poetic Digression #14... I call this one...
Central Evaporation Unit, Cargill Salt Production Facility 13.
Was a place I once fished with huge steel bait cages welded in Jerry's shop.
I was on a quest you see.... for the wonderful long jaw mudsucker.
Who's only claim to fame is that other more "worthwhile" fishes like to eat him.
"Gone now from most of his former range" is how they tend to put it
And yet... a few rare people still seek the longjaw.
Studying mercury levels
and how everything went wrong.
And a few kids,
because their jaws are cool.
And a couple of oldtimers way in the back-bay:
"Let's pick up some bait, Jimmy, some of those wierd longjawed bullheads."
"I dunno Ed, haven't seen a longjaw around here in thirty years."
Oh yeah... and one other guy.... One other guys seeks the longjaw mudsucker... crazy fish checker dude... out there in Pond # E-6... walking around... talking to himself... wondering how he got here...
so deep in the ponds...
so deep in the ponds...
so deep in the ponds...
"Says he's trying to catch a mudsucker for his baitfish guide, Ed... says they're gone in San Francisco Bay... says you can't catch 'em anywhere... says a mud-sucker nowadays is a thing called a yellowfin goby... says he knows for a fact no one gives a damn but him... says he thinks the long-jaw mud-sucker is, among other things, well, the cutest of all fishes... says he fully comprehends the deep sissy-hood of that last sentence... says he doesn't care anymore, about using that word or whether or not anyone is even following this paragraph to its brutal conclusion... says the longjaw has gone extinct everywhere... except deep deep deep in the ponds... deep in Central Evaporation Unit, Cargill Salt Production Facility 13... where the salinity is so extreme nothing can survive. Nothing but theodore gill's wonderful mudsucker..."
Yeah I Know
Yeah I know. They also live in the Alameda canal (see above), Bay Farm, Lake Merrit and etc. In the end my olfactory trauma was all for nothing. A twelve year old kid named Justin, caught the longjaw mudsucker I used for the guide (for a picture of it see the post from 11/26). Anyway, I spent about a week writing the details of this salt pond fiasco for the print edition of the MFN, and have no interest in rewriting it here. If you want a copy contact me. Otherwise I thought this might be a good moment to acknowledge Justin M., the Huck Finn of Alameda, who in addition to knowing more about gobies and mudsuckers than anyone else in California, is also a Grade A Number One Fisherman, (and potential Monkeyface Operative #005). But don't take my word for it, here's the physical evidence of this young man's talents (his mother incidentally makes the best chocolate chip cookies in North America--perhaps this is why he's such a good fisherman?).
And so it came to pass... that Lombard of the Intertidal drove down to hidden cove and dropped Promars with the BKM (Boer Kayak Mafia). The result was this... 4 easy limits of dungeness crab (that's 40 for four guys!) in just over one-hour (1 hour and 15 minutes to be exact). Once again the catching of the crabs proved to be the easiest part of the venture. Although, I will say this: paddling around with a stack of traps on a ten foot kayak is, at times, challenging. 14 foot? 12 foot? No problemo. But crabbing in 10 footer is a bit sketchy.
Due to Fishwife Anti-crab Proclamation #1, Lombard of the Intertidal was forced to drive all the way back to Oakland with the BKM, in order to cook those wonderful arthropods wrested from the crystalline waters of Marin County CA., USA. The BKM who, despite their rugged fishmongering ways, evidently agree with said fishwife as to the negative aspects of indoor crab cooking--went so far as to stop and purchase this thing on the way home:
Thank god that in addition to their rugged hunting and gathering skills the BKM is capable of interesting conversation on a wide variety of subjects. Otherwise this "staring at a pot of water" business would have really sucked. Here are a few more happy photographs of our latest successful crab slaughtering expedition:
Lombard of the Intertidal as seen through the webbing of BKM crab trap #2
And that's it for today folks. Tune in tomorrow for ground breaking reports about eels and stuff. Oh yeah...
From high above that blustery, arthropod infested city by the bay, this is MFN H.H.#1 (Head Honcho #1) signing out!