Just look at those crabby women!
Not in the way you might think, though. Five adventurous ladies from four states showed up on a Friday afternoon ready and raring to get started on their bayou adventure, even without knowing what that entailed. I was hoping they would be “all in” with whatever I would throw their way, and they didn’t disappoint!
Old Classmates from Back Home
Connie and Sharon are school mates from Bossier City whom I hadn’t seen in 39 years! It was a new and fulfilling experience to have them here and get to know them better now that they are all grown up! Sue and I go back about 28 years or so, having become friends through a mutual friend. We have managed to maintain a long-distance friendship all these years even though we have never lived in the same town. She came a couple days early to hang out, visit, and help with BWA preparations, and I was thankful for her help. Heather, or Lil Sis as you know her, took time off from her busy life of real estate and taking care of her grand daughter to be with us, and I’m so glad she was able to be part of the first BWA. Amy, the daughter of Sharon, brought a younger element to the group, and it was really neat to see how she interacted with us old fogies. She picked at us, and we picked back at her, but she really fit right in with the group.
Let’s Go Crabbing
After taking a little time to introduce ourselves and get to know each other better, we rolled up our sleeves and got down to the brass tacks of learning how to catch blue crabs. We chose three teams of two, each with our own crab trap to take care of. We decided to set them out in the bayou overnight to see what they might produce. They jumped right in baiting the traps with fish carcasses and tossing them right into the bayou like old pros.
Once the traps were in the water, we cleaned up and enjoyed a supper of shrimp stew, French bread, and a wonderfully different Asian broccoli slaw prepared by Sue. There was plenty of food, drink, and conversation to go around. Because we wanted to get an early start next morning, we called it a night around 10:30 or so after talking and laughing till our sides ached.
Stopping in the Swamp
Saturday morning, bright and early, we launched the boat and checked our crab traps to find the most caught was 4 crabs in one trap, so we put them in the boat and took them to three new and different locations. Each team picked a spot for their traps, rebaited them and tossed them out, taking note of landmarks so they could find them later among all the other crab traps. Then, we were on our way to the distant swamp, where we hung around and enjoyed the beauty, solitude and bird songs for a good while.
Crabbing with String and Nets
Our next stop would be a canal where we would catch crab using string and chicken necks. Only one problem – the chicken necks were nowhere to be found! But Connie offered up her bag of round, gummy Life Savers to use as bait. As they each tied one to their strings, (with lots of giggles, jokes, and jibes) two men idled by in a boat recommending we move across the way and take the spot where they were fishing. I wasn’t interested in doing that but instead asked them if they had some dead shrimp to spare. They gladly shared their shrimp bait, and that made them the Lifesavers! We swapped out the quickly-dissolving gummy Lifesavers for dead shrimp and soon the competition was on to see who had the knack for finding and netting the most crabs.
They soon got the hang of crabbing, with one woman holding the string while the other netted the crabs as they took the bait. I loved hearing the shouts of “I’ve got another one!” each time the blue wonders hit the basket.
On the way back in, each team checked their prospective crab trap, leaning way out with a gaff, snagging the buoy, and pulling the trap up to see what they caught. They dumped the crabs into the ice chest, emptied out the old bait back into the bayou, and neatly stacked their traps in the boat. Between the two methods, we ended up with a nice little mess of crabs. Truth is, though, we caught more on the strings than we did in the traps!
The ladies then helped me get the boat out of the water and then back to Camp Dularge to unload the boat. It was great having their help with all the tasks and made things much more enjoyable for yours truly. After a regular charter trip, I’m left alone to do all the cleanup myself. Their help made short work of unloading the boat, and I was very grateful!
Let’s Boil Our Crabs
Everyone did their part preparing the boil, and we relaxed with some cool beverages, talking and laughing some more while the water boiled.
Some of the ladies had never eaten boiled crab before, but they caught on very quickly as I showed them step-by-step how to break off the shell and get to the delicious white meat. If you’ve ever eaten boiled crab, you know that isn’t an easy task for a newbie.
The Rest of Our Journey
After we ate, we rested and then got cleaned up for dinner. I think they were happy and suprised when I presented them with their “I am a Bayou Woman” t-shirts. They gladly donned them before we headed out to visit my friend Etta down in Cocodrie at their old family store–Lapeyrouse’s Grocery.
Less than twenty-four hours after their arrival, these adventurous women had successfully caught, boiled, and eaten about two dozen crabs, and now they have the t-shirts to prove it!
With our newly-earned Bayou Woman shirts on our backs, we headed to Eatta’s and then to dinner at Schmoopy’s in Dulac, where our shirts drew quite a bit of attention!
A couple ladies had their famous whole friend flounder.
A couple of us had the grilled tuna, and it was good, too. Amy ordered their bacon-wrapped oysters, which were delicious!
After dinner, we returned to Camp Dularge and talked and laughed until way too late. Connie and Sharon brought out the Bossier High School yearbooks, and we had the best time talking about old classmates and sharing old stories. Sue and Amy were really good sports about indulging us while we did so. Thanks, gals!
Best Crabby Woman Award
I’m sorry to say that I forgot to hand out the “Best Crabber” award before everyone left on Sunday morning. And the winner of the first ever Crab Whisperer award goes to Lil Sis. She just had the magic touch when it came to snagging those crabs on a dead shrimp at the end of a string! Of course, it was a team effort with her partner, the netter, but we all had a great time, no matter how many crabs we caught!
Everyone left Sunday morning saying what a great time they had! I know I certainly had a great time. I just want to say how proud I am of how these five women stepped out of their comfort zones into Life in the Louisiana wetlands. They never once complained and their enthusiasm about being here once again reminded me what a wonderful life we have down the bayou.
Tired but happy!
Coming soon: Cajun Caviar a new super easy dip recipe that was a hit this past weekend! Great for summertime appetizers!