Birthday trout trip and boiled crab cuisine

Blogger shares his birthday fishing trip and favorite seafood recipes.

I planned on a quick freshwater crabbing in June, combining some fishing for catfish while waiting for my nets to fill with blue paws. That trip was abruptly shortened when my yellow lab’s ear was pierced by a fish hook as she jumped in the boat before the rods were moved from their road positions.

Of course, she pulled it out herself ripping the ear completely open in a T shape over an inch up, down and outwards. I was hoping for blood in the boat from fish, not the dog. Man, those dogs are tough, even at the old age of 11 she is all go; only yelping once when it happened. In spite of holding pressure, she bled for two hours. She was upset that we wouldn’t let her go swimming as we quickly tried to see if the crabs were running, which they weren’t.

Of course she ended up jumping in when we weren’t looking. Luckily it was freshwater, so no sharks were around to smell the blood.

I couldn’t resist, either, diving in the Intracoastal to cool off, as well. I wanted to go crabbing farther south, but needed to stay close to Thibodaux with my girlfriend on call.

We brought Skye to the emergency vet, who had a look at the ear. He gave us the option of a very expensive, time-consuming stitch job or letting it heal all mangled and maybe reopening.

Luckily, I knew of a solution that he didn’t mention — one I used when my old chocolate lab would get busted up. It was the much cheaper Super Glue trick.

As a broke college kid, I couldn’t afford a vet for every knick and scratch; same went for repairing myself, which seemed a daily occurrence with my unquenchable thirst for crazy adventures.

I could tell the vet didn’t like my knowledge on the subject, but agreed to using the surgical glue, as I requested. The vet installed the surgical glue, and gave a 50/50 chance of working. However, my additional of layering of extra Super Glue throughout the week greatly increased the odds to 100 percent.

The short five minute procedure cost us $270 with antibiotics, but it still saved us a bunch of money. Days later the glue job was holding well, although keeping the spoiled girl out of our pool to let the wound heal faster was a much tougher task.

The next weekend I went to Cocodrie with my mom’s boyfriend for my birthday. The wind was blowing harder than I hoped, around 10 knots all morning. We had little success on plastics and topwaters, but the action heated quickly with finger mullets.

At one rig, I was catching big 18-inch trout every cast fishing 6 feet deep under a cork to keep from getting hung up. It took 10 minutes to slowly drift in with the wind and anchor quietly just barely in casting range. Then, it took 10 seconds for some amateur to scare them running his motor right next to the rig, wondering, “Why is that guy anchored so far away?”

Next, my favorite rig had a crew boat riding back and forth five times, a half mile each time. We never figured out what that was about, but nothing other than hardheads were hanging around that rig.

At many of the rigs, I saw plenty of sheepshead to catch. These are fun to sight-fish with dead shrimp under a cork. They are really easy to spot in clean, green water, but getting them to divert their attention to your bait instead of picking the oil well’s barnacles is the challenge. Many times, it’s tough to use a trolling motor close to the rig when it’s rough and windy or the current is kicking, but if you enjoy sight-fishing largemouths on the beds this is the inshore comparison.

With a 10:10 a.m. high tide approaching, I decided to put some numbers in the boat at Last Island. Ended up with several large specks there, with a few pushing 20 inches. But the slack tide killed the bite within an hour of arriving.

Instead, of catching smaller trout on the outer sandbars, I rather catch fewer large ones fishing closer to the island on the shallower sandbars where the waves are breaking.

I wanted to stay, limiting out with the falling tide, but I didn’t have enough time with the planned crab boil. However, before heading in I couldn’t resist making a quick stop at one of my secret holes.

Just as expected, every cast resulted in a white trout or black channel mullet. To catch theses I switched to very small hooks fixing the bait just right. The stronger hooks won’t straighten if you hook up with a big bull red or when flipping off catfish. Trick is learning when to set the hook on those bait thieves; otherwise you’ll be driven crazy. It’ll usually take 15 to 30 seconds for that small fish to quit nibbling and swallow the bait.

Bait shrimp works for this, but I was using my much preferred cut mullet. Many times they nibble off the shrimp without grasping the hook. Putting a hook through a piece of cut mullet’s skin will ensure a secure bait. Then, I’ll hide the hook’s tip in the meat.

After sharks ended up stealing our hooks, we headed home with plenty of fish.

Since we didn’t have crabs from the previous day, we bought some select crabs. Many places had limited amounts or none at all. One place had a dozen, another two dozen, but the biggest crabs by far were at Seafood Outlet on Canal BLVD in Thibodaux, where we snatched their last remaining three dozen.

Every placed laughed at me when I specifically asked for skinny select crabs. How rude. Sorry if I rather eat large, easier-to-pick skinny crabs, which are spicier and have meat that falls out of the body when you pull on the legs and claws. My mother doesn’t like overly spicy food, but I do; so I eat the more-peppered skinny crabs, leaving her the mild, full ones for her.

Many people like harder-to-pick full crabs, but those crabs are tougher to season, usually calling for extra boiling mix. Getting full crabs fully flavored will usually result in vegetables and potatoes that are way too spicy, burning everyone’s lips. Skinny crabs and vegetables absorb similar levels of seasoning in the same timeframe.

My trick to seasoning full crabs without over-spicing everything else is to dump the vegetables and crabs after a normal soak time. Then I’ll pick out the full crabs and re-soak them for an extra 20 to 30 minutes. This way you don’t have to over-season your boiling water. Sometimes I’ll put extra boiling powder in for this re-soak.

The boil was great. I threw in some shrimp I caught from the cast net that day for the the last two minutes of the boiling time, tossed in plenty of vegetables and my favorite addition — jalapeno-flavored chicken sausage.

I shelled and de-legged the extra crabs, while leaving the meat unpicked in the bottom portion of the crab. I set aside some for future gumbo. Adding in boiled crabs to an oyster gumbo will really intensify flavor compared to uncooked crab meat. My favorite addition, which few people use in seafood gumbo, is adding large, diced sea scallops. These succulent morsels blend nicely with the local seafood, as long as you don’t over cook them.

I’m a picky cook, and notice many people overdo their seafood in gumbos, leaving the meat tough and chewy. After making the roux and sauteing vegetables, I’ll add my water from the oyster container and seafood stock, cooking for a while. Only once flavored perfectly will I throw in the actual seafood, but only cook for a few minutes. This will leave the meaty portions perfectly tender, but to get them well-seasoned I’ll stew them on the stove’s warmest setting for a while to let them soak in the gumbo’s flavor.

Next, I put some crab bodies in my favorite quick-and-easy marinate concoction consisting of sliced purple onions, chopped garlic and Italian dressing, flipping and shaking every day. If you’ve yet to try marinated boiled crabs, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

The last few shelled crab bodies I saved for the ultimate dinner experience: sauted boiled buttered crabs.

Its fairly easy, here’s the steps

• Saute two large sweet Vidalia onions, a few stalks of celery and green onions, one green bell pepper, a few raw jalapeno peppers, mushrooms and some minced garlic in olive oil.
• Add in a stick of butter, along with salted cajun seasonings. I use healthier light olive oil butter.
• Once the sauce is complete, stir in the crab bodies and paws into the sauce.
• Cover, cooking on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
• Enjoy the amazing blend of boiled seasonings and sauted butter sauce.

You can pre-pick the crabs if you want, but it’ll be gone before you know it. I like to savor this meal as I slowly pick the crabs and grab a few chopped veggies with each pinch of meat. Cook in a few soft-shells for a truly spectacular feast. Eat with pasta and rice, if desired.

You can also use boiled shrimp in these recipes, too. Soon you’ll be boiling crabs just to make these post-boil delicacies!

Next spring I’ll be uploading an article on unique crawfish-boiling tips with my dad, who took his art-like form of boiling perfect seafood to creating his own seafood boiling seasoning company called “Atchafalaya Gold” that can be found at local grocery stores.

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About Josh Chauvin 117 Articles
Joshua Chauvin is a health-focused ultra-marathon runner who goes on solo manual-powered public land adventures focusing on hunting big game and large fish by using challenging methods and weapons. He enjoys self-filming and sharing the tactics and details from his expeditions to help others learn from his unique techniques.

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