Sunday, November 5, 2023

Fall Back Baby

 Saturday afternoon your reporter and Connor Devaney joined Secret Skipper at the Island of Romance to chase our favorite aquatic insects.

We had been trying to get Connor to join us for several seasons, but this time he ran out of excuses, as both Sarah Jane and WendyJo were headed to a baby shower from which we had been cruelly  excluded.

We went to a spot Skipper and I used to fish eight years ago, but had left alone as we had phenomenal luck at an alternative venue for several seasons before our amazing stretch of good luck ran aground.

We left Cabrillo Marina in Pedro at 1:30 pm and headed out into a surprising thick fog, which stayed with us most of the way across the channel.

We had pleasant weather with a bit more wind than one would anticipate with so much fog.  Things cleared up about 2/3 of the way across as the island came into view.

We baited up with frozen sardines and fresh salmon carcasses from San Pedro Fish Market.

As we scouted the potential zones, we were joined by a roving pod of white-faced Risso's dolphins that periodically swung by our position in a lazy orbit they were making through bait schools.  

They approached us closely, but are generally shy and tended to sink out when we tried to join them.

We set out three deep (over 200), three mid-range, and four in under 100.

Our first set resulted in pegged floats from a quickening current and bought us 8 legals, mostly in the mid range, as the shallows produced an abundant supply of shorts and the deeps disappointed.

After the first set, things slowed down and we encountered an onslaught of spider crabs and lobster that were maddenly close to legal, but did not make the grade.

We relocated the deeps into the mid-range and clustered 6 rigs in a tight area that continued to gag up a couple legals per set. We watched a red 3/4 moon rise up over the mainland as we chipped away with our pulls and the current started backing off. We were one bug short of a limit for a long interval as we went through  more shorts and spiders.  We probably tossed at least 25 spiders and more than 40 shorts before we finally got our 21st legal. We had several nice bugs, no giants and a couple that had survived measurement to make the death squad. We celebrated finally capturing our last victim by breaking down gear for the ride home, which was smooth and clear.

We made it back home by 4 am, thanks to the clocks turning back an hour, so it was more like the old days of paying dues for 16 hours and barely sneaking back before morning started and other humans rose to bother us.

This time around, events and routine prevented rallying the family for an immediate feast, so I will focus a bit of this report on the process of preserving these tails for the future, which is where we are all headed.

First, we lay out our equipment to convert the living to the frozen.

Lobster tails are separated from the less prized portions with a rapid brain scramble and break away.

Thorns are removed from the tails with clippers.

We use the  antennae to extract the digestive system by insertion.

The finished tails and antennae are tastefully displayed in a floral arrangement before being taken inside for packaging.

Tails are wrapped in foil to prevent sharp edges from penetrating the vacuum seal bags into which they are placed.

The final step is vacuum sealing with our faithful Food Saver, as the sealer crunches the foil down and keeps the shell edges from penetrating the plastic.  One of the side benefits of freezing the tails in the shells is that they separate more easily if you like to split the tails and pop the  tail meat to the top for buttering and broiling in that style of serving these roaches to your guests.

They are almost as good as fresh if you process them this way, which allows you to plan ahead, or just sneak out a couple of tails when you feel like you deserve a culinary reward  because life has been so unfair to people like us.

Anyway, we had to work more like we used to do when we were younger, but it was a good lesson for Connor 's debut into what was  a fairly easy and successful outing.  It makes for a slow moving Sunday, but at least we got to take advantage of our time travel away from daylight savings and the free hour we get as compensation for the depressing arc of scarce winter sunlight before the Solstice turns the tide.

We will bank a quiet Sunday recovery and the opportunity to reserve a future date for a family gathering that will no doubt keep us informed that

These Are The Days