February 28, 2013
Yesterday was a beautiful weather day. Jim fixed a blown fuse on the back-up camera, and a few other little chores. I lost my mobile home to an indoor flood and dealt with the related issues much of the morning and late in the day. Jim received news that Aaron Canvasser, a good friend of his died and he was feeling blue.
This is Aaron giving me a haircut on the first day that we met in 2010. He came to visit us where we were staying in Yuma. Then I gave him a haircut. He was so much fun to be around. It is a haircut I’ll never forget.
We didn’t feel like doing much so we drove around the park, took more swamp pictures. The swamp was gray and cheerless. I kept trying to find color.
Moving water and shadows produced an abstract.
This one tree near the boardwalk had three different pieces of tackle stuck in it.
This piece was hanging in the wind. The third piece was one of those yo-yos.
I talked to five fishermen on the board walk. This guy was using a baby crawfish for bait. He said he usually gets perch in this lake, and an occasional bass. None of them had fish yet. He told us about an alligator farm nearby.
The boardwalk here is lengthy and makes a pretty pattern.
A clump of iris. The green just emphasizes the gray of the cypress.
But, spring is just around the corner. I expect to see green leaves soon. We spent the late part of the day sitting outside for the second time this winter. It was comfortable enough to read our books and enjoy the fresh air right up to supper time. Life is good.
February 24, 2013
On what was supposed to be our last day at the American Legion, I mentioned that I wanted to buy some crawfish to take with me before we left crawfish territory. Mark and Marlene told us, no, you don’t want to do that, it’ll stink up your camper. You go see Cody and Leslie Newman. She called them on the phone and we went and ate crawfish and got a tour of his business and learned how it is done. Then, we got a date for the following morning to ride his boat and see how crawfish are trapped and harvested. I’m blogging the process in reverse.
We followed Cody to his ponds. His boat is a two-man operation. Cody checks the bait tub to make sure there is plenty for your jaunt.
This Honda motor is air-cooled, quiet and propels the lightweight boat through the shallow water without harming anything. Once the process starts, the boat doesn’t stop.
His worker picks up the trap on the move.
He dumps the crawfish onto the grader…
…pushes them into the bags that hang at the end of the table, which allows the small-sized fish fall through the bars and slide back into the pond.
Then he re-baits the trap, and stabs it back into the pond behind the next trap he picks up. It is continuous. Dump the trap, throw out any old chewed up dead fish bait and put in new bait. Right now, Cody is using a poagie bait, a cooked product that has an attractant. Fish are better but it takes three times the weight for the worker to bait the trap. Weight is an issue when you may have to lift three thousand pounds of fish in a days work with one arm.
The bags hold from 30 to 35 pounds of crawfish. On a good day, he might harvest 1100 to 1200 pounds a day. In the peak of the season, they harvest every day. Every other day as the season wanes. The ponds have to be drained, dried and clean water put in between seasons. He plants rice as food tor the crawfish. He doesn’t harvest rice as some do since he works in the petroleum industry.
The advantage to this boat is that it can be operated by one man. The big wheel gets set in its groove and just moves along at the right pace while the driver pulls the traps, baits and sorts in the same way. The disadvantage is the damage to the pond has to be graded and repaired after using this method. Cody also mentioned that ducks ruin a crawfish pond. They kill the rice plants, decay removes oxygen the fish need, their poop is acidic and harms the fish. They have to fire guns to scare them away when they arrive by the thousands.
The previous day, when we walked into his shop, Cody was taking a delivery of shad, the bait fish.
And Cody’s mom had just delivered crawfish from her farm to the store. He buys from several other farms as well.
The crawfish are cooked in plain water for six minutes in these big boilers. Then they are placed in hot seasoned water for 12 minutes. Cody explains that he and others in the area are the only ones who boil that way. The 12 minutes gets the seasoning into the meat. Other places around the country add seasoning on the outside of the crawfish which gets on your fingers from the shell to flavor the meat as you eat. His crawfish is mildly seasoned. If you want it hotter, he will put it on the outside.
This is what they look like when they come out ready to serve. At this point he will add seasoning for a customer.
He bags and weighs the fish and put it on a platter for me.
He taught me how to eat them. You push the tail in toward the body, and make a quarter turn.
Then you squeeze the tail and the meat pops up and you can bite it out in one piece easily. We’ve watched people in restaurants tediously peel away the shell from the tail. Cody showed us the proper way. It works so well and I was so grateful to be able to eat those delicious little buggers so easily. Now, I know.
He also gave me a taste of his specialty Cajun marinated mushrooms which were delicious as well.
We were joined by another couple from Alaska and they told us about sucking heads, which Cody also referred to. You suck the head for the tasty juices that come out. And it is yummy. You can dig the meat out of the claws if it is a big crawfish. It took me no time to polish off three pounds of crawfish. I wish I’d bought about six pounds to go. But, it is best eaten the way it is served all over Louisiana. Freshly boiled. Thanks a million Cody!
June 18, 2012
In the park, father’s were celebrating their special day by fishing.
A young daughter not quite sure she could see the point in it, stuck it out with her dad. It only takes one catch to make her a believer.
This dad told me he fishes with worms. He likes trout and trout like worms. He called worms the “old-fashioned” bait.
Comparing this morning’s walk, with the one we took two days ago, was pretty amazing. Both sides of the river was lined with fishermen. Across from us, every 20 feet or so sat a fisherman on a rock.
Catching a rock is a problem. He seemed unsure about how to get his hook unsnagged. He needed the help of a dad or permission to get his shoes and pants wet.
How nice for a young boy to be assisted by his “honorary grandfather.” The boy was excited and thrilled about learning to fish.
These two anglers propped their poles in a V crotch so they didn’t have to hold them. They looked a bit half-hearted about it. But, who am I to judge?
Now this guy is an entertainer. I think he entertained the fish right onto his line. He said, “Oh, if I’m gonna get my picture taken, I better take off my sunglasses.” Which he did.
Within seconds he had his fish, and as I took more photos, he said: “Okay, do I get royalties for my picture? How about 60% for me and 40% for you since I did all the work?” I told him absolutely a deal, because 60% of nothing is zero, just like 40% of nothing is zero.
He laughed and offered to give me his fish. And, I would have taken it, too, but I had “clean out the refrigerator” soup and salad on the menu in preparation for my returning home. Jim has many talents but cooking isn’t one of them.
Enjoying the day was what it was all about, even if you are fishing with your sister who went back to camp for something. Dad was sleeping in.
“I’m waiting for my wife. She is finishing a book she is reading. I come here every year.”
We enjoyed the stroll. I had a fishing pole in the motor home and hadn’t used it in two years. Jim talked me into donating it to the VFW yard sale back in Ajo. It has been hot but we are plugged in and have air conditioning. My time has been spent organizing stuff to go home. My Navajo horse blanket and Shaman Stick will have to wait for the motor home to make a stop in Murphys next year. And, I read two wonderful books over this week. Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy Turner, which has been compared to Lonesome Dove. And A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini who also wrote Kite Runner. This book is better. I hope father’s everywhere enjoyed their special day.