My old clamming partner from way back used to have a theory that whatever smells you experienced whilst digging clams worked their way into your system and would later influence the scent of your gas. My living room smells like the Gloucester side of the spit right now. That is all.
Archive for July, 2011
For some bizarre reason, I have been trying to get a little more involved with fisheries management as of late. Nothing crazy, just making some noise regarding topics I know very little about. Par for the course.
Last night I took part in a conference call to brainstorm about how we should combat consolidation issues created by sector management. Naturally, folks on the council looking to consume allocation think that the issue of consolidation is a myth. They claim that the industry is over-capitalized and therefore not making any money. I’m still waiting for an accurate account of revenues in the day boat fishery to be released; a before and after snapshot of profits. One that would account for all of the smaller operations that aren’t fishing at all anymore. Having seen one very well-respected young fisherman sell out recently; and hearing through the grape-vine that several other key players in the Gloucester day boat fleet are planning on doing the same I’ve got a feeling that the program has benefited exactly who NOAA wanted it to benefit. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a pity party for those choosing to sell out. They will be paid huge for their allocations and will be just fine. No shame in that…they’ve earned it.
The problem comes with who will be doing the paying. It will not be another owner/operator who wants to keep his own operation afloat…those days are gone. And its laughable to think that it will be a new entrant into the fishery. Those days, also gone. It will most likely be a permit bank who will then dole out allocation as they see fit. And as time rolls on Gloucester’s small boat fishery will consist of sharecroppers.
These issues really hit home listening to one of the fishermen on the call last night. Probably the only young fisherman to start a multi-species operation in Gloucester in the last ten years, this guy is a good fisherman and a hard-working s.o.b. He completely rebuilt his boat making it fish as efficiently as possible. He invested in his business by stock-piling the necessary equipment. He diversified by taking advantage of every possible fishery at his disposal. And under the days-at-sea system he prospered.
He recently had to let his stern-man go. A young kid who loved fishing and would have made a great captain in his own right. There just wasn’t enough work. There will be no new gear investment this year. He is planning on going gill-netting alone, a dicey proposition at best. His options are now limited by either high overhead with the risk of low returns or potential by-catch that NOAA’s scientist will remove from his allocation despite live release. Luck-or-the-draw left his permits with a fraction of the fish that he was landing under the DAS system. The tone of his voice reflected the possibility that his dream of being a fisherman that seemed to have come true may be cut short.
I think that it is time for some of the high-rollers delaying an amendment to cap allocation to ask themselves what their legacy in this industry is going to be? It’s clear that NOAA’s science is just far enough behind to do more harm than good, so it will be up to the fishermen in operation to prevent this from becoming wall street.
Admittedly, I’m in a bit of a mid-summer funk. I’ve been living out of a clothes basket in the basement for, oh, about a month. I just walked past the sink and caught a whiff of something that resembled lobster bait on the turn. The gardens need to be weeded; the lawn needs to be mowed; the basement needs to be cleaned; my fly-tying/fishing room looks like a scene from poltergeist. It seems I’ve been putting a lot of effort into making a little money…and doing a little less than just that. Unfortunately, the blog always suffers the worst.
Well, I’ve got exactly one month to pull my shit together for lobsterfest. Time to put down the beer and pick up a shovel, or a broom. Whatever metaphor works for you. Because it’s all about you, right?
In the meantime, look at some boobs.
And for those of you that think I’m a chauvinist, don’t count out how good-looking that Mario is. Striking, really. Ahh, Mario, you ol’ motor-boatin’ son-of-a-bitch.
After not doing much for the past two months I decided that I was in need of a break. Said break was found in western Mass along the Deerfield River. The legal camping is so-so, but the fishing is great. Floated the river for the first time with Fishing guide Tom Harrison, who will be mentioned in his own post shortly. Floating a river with someone who knows not only how to handle the boat but cater to fishermen really is incredible. The fishing is easier; the scenery incredible; and the general stress level is quite low if your like Hammer and I and don’t really care about much other than being in trout country. I was slow with the camera on the bald eagle that casually flew over us on day one, but I do have an excuse. I could have quickly fished the camera out of my pocket, turned it on and snapped a shitty picture. Instead I leaned back on the raft and just watched it. That’s some hippy wanna-be beat writer shit right there. I did, however, snap a shot of the Dobson fly that landed on Hammer’s back:
The size of a B-52. pincers 1/2 an inch long. And mean. My photo doesn’t really do this thing justice.
There, that’s better. I had never actually seen an adult before, and definitely contemplated jumping out of the boat. Luckily, I was too petrified to move and therefore able to stay dry. Well, half dry.
After two days and nights on the Deerfield, we headed to the Swift to finish the trip. Yeah, it’s crowded. Yes, it’s mostly stocked fish. I’m aware that they have all probably been caught before. But I enjoy the place, so don’t harsh my mellow.
See any trout:
Hammer, who was previously skunked on the Swift, did discover a sexy little nymph that the fish were fighting to eat. So I had to deal with that loud mouth. Just the look on his face makes you want to punch him:
While, I admit I was out-fished, I will say in my defense that the fish I did catch were legitimately fooled by traditional fly fishing methods. Not a bobber and worm rig like some people depend on.
All in all a damn fine weekend. Reminds me…I don’t know if I have mentioned this before…but I would be fabulous at being rich.
Well, you try going into shark country and swimming with one of these rabid beasts. Like flippered badgers, they are.
Alright…I know what your thinking. Another recipe from a wanna-be hack of a cook who thinks he’s much funnier, handsomer, cleverer and thinner than he is. Well bear with me because this one is quite involved.
Step one: Get a cooler full ice and cans of cheap beer.
Step two: Go get the damn clams yourself. Sure, you could buy them and save yourself a whole hell of a lot of work. But diving and or digging for cohawgs (Qua-hogs) is not only more fun, but it’s often illegal and the only way to ensure freshness. Don’t let a little red tide scare you…those scientists don’t know what the hell they are talking about.
Step three: Shuck the clams. You don’t have to be an expert (you’re probably drunk by now anyway). Any small knife will do. I kind of like the Victorinox rope knives we use lobstering. Just the right length and sharp enough to get to the bone when you screw up.
Put the knife in both ‘ends and cut down towards the ‘heel’ of the clam. The shell should pop open.
I focus on the foot (on the knife) and the two ‘sweet meats’ (round muscles on either side that hold the shell closed). I’m sure that people who know what they are doing mess around with that other crap; good for them.
You should also strain a little clam juice for later. Not a necessity, but it’s always fun to talk about clam juice around the water cooler.
Step four: dice your meat.
Now its time to cook. And any good chef, or bad one, knows that you’re supposed to drink wine while you cook. OK, I made that up, but it sounds right. The official wine of the northshorewaterman is black box. Don’t leave home with it.
Enough with the steps, there really is no official recipe here. I use a huge deep pan (a better man would know what it’s called) and melt some butter. In goes the onion, pepper, celery and maybe some sausage if you’ve got some kicking around.
Cook on medium for about ten minutes. Then add your diced clam meat. Cook for another five minutes. Now time to start adding a whole bunch of crushed Ritz crackers. I do mine in a ziplock with a fancy kitchen smasher.
Things are going to start to get dry. I don’t eat anything dry. Time for the clam juice (see, wasn’t that fun?). No more than an eighth of a cup. Also, some more butter; a healthy dash of cream sherry and multiple dashes of Franks red hot. Multiple. Should be just about right for a snowball/strange clam cracker sausage ball. At this point, you’ll want to transfer your mixture into your baking vessel. Some folks like to used actual cohawg (quo-hog) shells. But since I don’t invite tourists over to eat this dish, I use a lightly buttered glass baking dish (doctors orders for my diet).
On this, I spread some more un-moistened ritz and maybe a few pads of butter. Then into a 350 oven for 25 minutes. No holds barred: this shit will make ya’ peeta hard. Serve with some cocktail sauce and black-box.