Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May 14, 2016 HUGE conch and strawberry grouper

I happen to be up early enough to get a nice sunrise photo.  I had a view of the horizon between some of the rocks.  Usually we have land to the east of us.

Dave took off with Cracky about 8:00 to help place a fish trap out in an area between the rocks but south of our boats.  Bahamians are allowed to do that, but not visitors.  He said our crab trap could be mistaken for a fish trap.  So we pulled that up.  These sand crabs aren’t interested in our bait anyway. 

We had breakfast and got ready for another day on the water.  In the meantime, Cracky was checking the shoreline near our boat for whelk, a large snail.  His wife was following him with their fishing boat.  He was getting near the end of the rocks by the time we headed over there.  Just about this time, he stood up on a couple rocks above the water line and we noticed he was nude.  We decided we didn’t need to join him.  Dave yelled to him from our boat “aren’t you worried about a Moray eel biting that thing off?”.  He replied that he’d have to look pretty hard to find it.  Cracky seems to be a “go-er” either fishing or scavenging for conch and whelk.  I guess he goes so fast, he looses his swimwear.   

After he got in his boat and dressed, he came over to our dinghy.  He thought we should motor over his fish trap and look at what was in there.  He had several fish inside the trap and a large grouper under it.  The whole area looked like a great area to snorkel.  There was a current, so we decided to “drift snorkel”.  We hung a line on each side of the dinghy.  Then we hung onto that line and let the dinghy drift over the area.  We saw all kinds of fish.  I generally stayed with the boat and let Dave head off with the spear.  We hopped back in the dinghy after we covered the area and motored back to the beginning.

Today, Dave speared 2 strawberry groupers about 15 inches in length.  He tried for a couple snappers and trigger fish.  Again, he was going for larger fish.  But it was a little more difficult to get a good shot in the current.  After the second time though, we continued on through a grassy area.  Here we found HUGE conch.  They must have weighed 10-15 lbs a piece.  I picked up two at one time and wasn’t sure I was going to be able to swim to the surface with them.  It was a workout. 

Cracky and Tania were back at their boat by the time we finished.  We went over to thank them for showing us the great spot.  They were grilling hot dogs for lunch and asked us to join them.  They didn’t have to ask twice. 
our boat from Cracky and Tania's boat

After lunch, Cracky asked Dave to help him bring up his trap.  He wanted someone at the helm while the other one brought up the trap.   Actually, he wanted Dave to pull up the trap.  I went along as the photographer.  When we reached the trap, we could see that the big grouper was still near his trap.  Cracky jumped in with his snorkel gear and spear and was back in a few minutes with huge Nassau grouper.  He offered half of it to us for helping him.  He said he couldn’t have speared it if he didn’t have someone at the helm in his boat. 
Dave at helm while Cracky heads in for the grouper
spear fished the grouper

Then Dave brought up the trap.  He had about 2 dozen fish in it.  There was a rock fish, 2 trigger fish, a smaller grouper, and several grunts.  He took the trap over to the beach and kept it in the water.
pulling in the fish cage for Cracky
only native Bahamians can use fish traps

We went back for our dinghy and met him at the beach.  We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning fish and conch.  I brought a short lawn chair to sit in at the table.  Dave and Cracky either sat on 5 gal buckets or were on their knees.  I brought a few more beers and figured this was the best beach bar I had ever been to.  You didn’t even have to get out of your seat to go to the bathroom!   I even helped clean the conch today.  They have a sticky, nasty, goober like slim that sticks to everything.  I had to really scrub the can coozies when we were done. Cracky ended up giving us half of the big grouper for helping him with the trap.  Didn’t seem like we did enough to deserve that. 
Queen conch
cleaning the huge grouper and gave us half
our strawberry grouper
Tonight we made conch salad.  We didn’t have any fresh onions or tomatoes so we made it using a can of Rotel and some celery. We used the juice of one lemon and some orange juice.  It turned out great.  Dave is calling it my “Emergency conch salad” recipe.  Dave sautéed the grouper in butter and garlic powder for dinner.  Another great day!

conch for the freezer
conch salad

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