Sabotage By Raccoon

It was planned well ahead of time that Joshua would have his annual summer day of crabbing on the Chesapeake Bay.  Coming off of last year when he caught two bushels of crabs in a few hours at the crack of dawn on the Severn, he was optimistic for a repeat.  He prepared the boat and all of the necessary props, including baiting 500-feet of trot line with fresh chicken necks, and carefully rolling the line into a basket, so that it would roll out just as easily in the morning, when laying out the line into the water.

Now for a good night of sleep and meeting at my house at 4:15 AM and launching out of Smith Marina by 5:00 AM.  It’s 2:30 AM and both dogs are barking violently and won’t let-up.  Everybody is awake in the house.  I get out of bed and let the dogs outside (Mickey the Beagle and Action Jackson the Pyrenees/Bernese mix), they do a few laps around the house and some serious sniffing and then come back in.

Little did we know at the time, but raccoons got into the trot line basket and ate about half of the 500-feet of baited line, and rat-nested the line into a complete tangle.

So it’s dark on the water and we just begin to roll out the trot line, which was absolutely impossible.  We all came to the realization that raccoons sabotaged our crabbing event.  We flipped the basket upside down and worked from the other end.  About half of the 500-feet was de-baited and ruined in a tangle.  We cut the line and created a 250 to 300-foot run.  We made the best of a bad situation, and still managed to generate a half bushel of crabs.

Between crabbing runs, we fished the boils of bait fish on the Severn River and were able to catch several striped bass in the one-foot size class.  Here, Matt takes the first fish of the morning.

My oldest son Josh, hooks into a white perch.

Perry navigates with the electric motor, Josh pulls in the crabs, and Matt checks the caught crabs for size and sex, culling out the smaller, non-keepers.

Of course being July 4th weekend the DNR Police stopped by to give us a safety check, which we passed with flying colors.

With the sun getting higher in the sky, Matt takes a proactive and aggressive position on catching crabs that were dropping off as they neared the surface.

We took a break from crabbing and went out into the Bay to Tolly Point and Thomas Point Lighthouse, out from the mouth of the South River.

Matt foul hook gaffs a white perch.

Josh, Matt and Perry all took several stripers from Tolly and Thomas Point’s.

We watched one other boat, where they were using grass shrimp and caught white perch keepers on nearly every cast, quickly limiting-out, preparing for a Fourth of July Fish Fry.

It was a beautiful day on the water, and temperatures rose into the low 90’s, and the gentle winds kept the Bay fairly calm.

We took the boat into dock for a great waterfront lunch, and then worked the crab traps, trot line and fishing for a little while longer, finishing at 1:00 PM.  Great morning on the water, and it was a pleasure to meet Joshua’s friends, Matt and Perry.

Lesson learned . . . put the baited trot line into the barn or garage, so that animals of the night won’t become saboteurs.  If only we had all 500-feet of available line, I think each trot line run may have been much more productive.