Earning my Country Girl badge
By Holly A. PhillipsPosted May 9, 2012
I finally went crabbing.
After living in Louisiana for almost 9 years, I crave crawfish, I cook with Tony’s, I can stomach alligator, and I can handle the heat of a raw jalapeno. Now, I can add crabbing to my list of native activities.
As a child in Indiana, I went fishing with my dad. There was a lake about an hour from our home and I can recall fond memories of waking up before the sun, collecting our tackle boxes (mine was turquoise), and heading to the bait shop for cartons of live crickets.
Knowing my dad, there was probably a donut stop along the way.
We would set up shop on the bank, opening our tackle boxes to reveal organized trays of jelly-like bait. I was mesmerized.
I quickly learned to thread my own worm, so the hook was hidden just right. My bobber, a plastic Mickey Mouse on a raft, set it up perfectly. The only problem was my attention span. It was early and quiet; it was just so soothing…
When I moved here, I heard my friends talk about going crabbing, and always thought it would compare to fishing. I really wanted to try it.
So Saturday, I got my chance. I offered to bake us scones for the ride (because I’m that lame) and promised to be at my friends’ home at 5 a.m.
“I really like your ‘game on’ attitude,” my crab-fisherman friend Travis told me. “Crabs gon’ die!”
Later, I found out Travis and his wife, Kelly, didn’t think I’d really come through with bells on.
But after going to bed early Friday night, I showed up at 4:55 a.m., with fresh coffee and homemade apple scones.
We loaded up the truck with all the essentials: beer, ice, and turkey necks. With the boat (complete with camo paint job) in tow, we hit the road – 167 miles of road – near Cameron, Louisiana.
The ride there was a sight: casinos and cops, and then later, swampy ponds studded with crawfish traps, lush fields with cows and donkeys, and of course, the sunrise.
Once we passed the last porcelain bathroom, it was a winding road to the boat dock. That’s when I caught my first sightings of gators; a sight I had not expected.
At the dock, we packed the boat, and got in the water. It was just after 8 a.m., and it was a choppy ride to our crabbin’ spot. I attempted to toss back the first brew of the day, but with the wind, I kept losing beer to the side of my face.
Once we hit the crabbin’ spot, we dropped anchor, and walked to a few areas to try. Even with our supply of giant, ‘roided turkey necks, the crabs weren’t going too crazy. So we dropped about ten lines into the water and checked them between beers and chats with the locals.
The locals determined that we were crazy for crabs since we drove so far, and that it was too early in the season for anything worth our while.
About 4 hours later, or a case of beer later, we had filled our cooler (excuse me, ice chest) with 8-dozen blue crabs. We headed back to the truck, but made one last stop that involved Travis reeling in two gators and Kelly and I freaking out.
I just kept thinking of Captain Hook fighting Mr. Crocodile, and yes, I realize that wasn’t real, but I’m not about to be that “freak accident” in tomorrow’s paper.
Our trip ended with a visit to Rabideaux’s. It’s a giant red barn on Highway 165, filled with cases of raw meat, and it is a beacon for hungry fisherman. I ate like I hadn’t eaten in days, and it was a seriously good burger.
After the drive back, we called our friends to enjoy our day’s catch. We boiled all the crabs, along with corn and potatoes, and served them up with margaritas.
It was a perfect Louisiana day.
As I write this, there is a small cut on my thumb — my only injury, aside from a mild sunburn, from crabbing. I’ve been known to wear pink nail polish and fake diamond rings, I am terrified of spiders and wouldn’t call myself a happy camper. However, I’m always willing to try something new, even if it means getting a little dirty.
So thank you, Travis and Kelly, for helping me earn my badge as a country girl. I hear another trip is already on the horizon, and I can’t wait.