#19 – Catch a fish with my bare hands. Shellfish, that is…

I knew this goal was on the verge of ridiculous when I put it on my list. I envisioned standing in river and somehow reaching into the water, pulling out a wild Chinook salmon and holding it up in triumph. If you don’t even set a goal, how will you ever achieve greatness?

But of course, when the reality of how one actually catches a fish with their bare hands set in, I realized it was probably still a pipe dream. I watched a lot of Youtube videos and searched Reddit for threads on fishing with your hands. My buddy, David, suggested that there was a place on Sauvie’s Island where I could pick up a sad, slow, dying salmon in shallow, murky water. Not exactly my vision from above.

So it’s on the back burner – he can still take me ice fishing in the winter.

In the meantime, we drove out to the beach last weekend to go crab hunting (is that the term? crab fishing? just crabbing?). I grew up using crab pots, either from the dock on a boat, but David’s version was very hands-on.

Lucky for us, it was a 75 degree day on the Oregon coast (a rarity) and he walked us out to some shallow channels, crab rakes and canvas bags in hand. He explained that once I saw a crab, just pick it up with the rake, check it’s gender and measure it, and then throw it into the bag. He then proceeded to throw on a pair of goggles, dive into the water and literally came up with a crab in each hand.

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Admittedly, it was a little nerve wracking to be walking along and feel a crab under my feet, but it wasn’t too hard to measure them and throw them in the bag. They skittered around a lot under water, but nothing we couldn’t handle.

Later that night, I experienced a greater pain than being snapped in the foot, the horror of putting my live crabs in a boiling pot and then ripping them apart to clean them. In the past, someone else has always done the dirty work.

 

Eventually though, I got through it and found that I was quite efficient at cleaning my fruit of the sea, and we had a real feast for dinner: corn on the cob, green beans, and fat slices of french bread for Thor. The crab itself was really good. In fact, I’ve had it two more nights in a row.

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I’m not officially crossing “catch a fish with my bare hands” off the list because who knows what the next four months might bring, but unless a salmon decides to spring into my arms, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

But that being said, I have a personal belief that until I can catch a fish with my hands, I won’t be able to wrestle and alligator…so just because it doesn’t happen RIGHT NOW doesn’t mean I’m giving up forever. (Bucket List 2022: Wrestle an alligator).

#21. Dig my own clams. Check.

After I posted my 2013 list, I was bombarded with people who had tips on clam digging. Apparently I am the only person in the entire world to have never dug my own clams. I’ve had my fair share of fishing, gone crabbing, and the like, but never clams. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I don’t actually like clams all that much, but the process of getting them straight from the beach interested me more than eating them.

For Father’s Day weekend, my dad took me out to the Oregon Coast to finally achieve some hands-on clam digging. As we rolled into town, it all seemed too easy. We bought a license at a place right off the highway and easily found the bay they suggested. The weather was sunny, with barely a breeze. However, finding the damned clams was another story. Since I’m not huge on clams, razor clams freak me out. I wanted the cute little ones that you steam or put in clam chowder. We had a hard time finding them at first, and I was more engrossed with all the other little sea creatures around.

Look! It’s a baby crab!

Look! It’s a baby shrimp!

 But finally, I found my first clam. 

Look! It’s a clam!

We basically circled the ENTIRE bay for three hours, and while we did get some clams, it was back breaking work! I suddenly had an appreciation for the united clammers association (if one such organization exists).

Look! It’s me finding clams!

When I finally got home, I steamed my clams with some garlic, butter, and parsley. The clams were pretty good, but considering it took an entire day to get them, and I ate them in like 4 minutes, I think next time I might make a chowder.

Look! It’s my steamed clams straight from the ocean!

However, there were just a few clams that looked like this:

Look! It’s a baby alien!

I just couldn’t eat them. It might have something to do with the fact that Aliens is my all time favorite movie, and something about these ones seems a little too much like face huggers. When I squeezed them, they had a weird involuntary spasm reaction which creeped me out even more.

Anway, so there it is. I’m officially versed in the arts of clam digging! Thanks dad!