Cruising & Sailing Information

Those Ellusive Crab and Prawn Traps

If you are a boater, in particular a sea or ocean-going boater, you have probably tried your hand at catching prawns and/or crabs with their respective pots. And if you have tried this, then you know how many traps or pots you have lost over the years! But it is so rewarding when the traps come up with our dinner, that we try it again, over and over every year.

This is the story of our weekend boating trip and yet another lost prawn trap. My husband and I have been boating for several years with friends on their Bayliner on the west coast and enjoy our excursions through the San Juan Islands in Washington state and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. Crabbing and prawn trapping is very popular among both pleasure boaters and commercial fisherman in these areas.

Our friend Jan had just had another birthday and her husband Hank decided to buy her something that they could both enjoy. You guessed it, a prawn trap. Out they went at the first opportunity early one morning in July and dropped their prawn trap over the side of their Bayliner. The attached float was clearly visible to other boaters and had their name and boat registration number painted on the side. As the day progressed, they decided it was time to check the prawn trap for booty. Dreaming of the delectable dinner that awaited them, they took off in their dinghy to check the trap. Around and around they went looking for their trap, but it was not to be found. They took their bearings from the land and were sure that they were in the correct spot, but no such luck. Once again, yet another prawn trap had disappeared. Back to their yacht and a dinner of pork and beans.

The next morning they weighed anchor and started off for the next day's location, looking as they went for the missing prawn trap. It was becoming obvious to them, that it was gone.

The following weekend, my husband and I were invited on board their yacht for the weekend. It was a beautiful weekend as we headed out across the straits towards the islands where we intended to drop anchor and spend the night on the hook in a secluded cove. The weather was sunny and warm and the winds very calm. We spent the night and enjoyed the company and conversation. Lots of laughter, especially on the topic of missing crab and prawn traps. We kidded our friends about losing another trap. "How many is that, this year?" we asked. "Too many," they replied.

After a wonderful sleep on the water, we got up the next morning, had breakfast and decided to spend the morning at a nearby weekend market. This market is held every Saturday during the summer season, and hobby farmers and crafters come from all over the area to display and sell their wares. It really is quite fun.

Up came the boat anchor and off we went. As we motored we watched for floating logs and other traps. It wasn't too long before Jan cried out. "The trap, the trap. There is our trap!" Sure enough as we circle back, there was the trap that had been lost the previous weekend. We came alongside the float, and slowed the motor. My husband went to the aft of the boat and began pulling in the line over the transom. It was very heavy.

He pulled and pulled. Slowly the line came up and into the boat, but no sign yet of the trap. Oh, my goodness. Did this mean that the trap was full to overflowing with prawns that had been trapped for the last seven days? If so, we were in for a very large feast that night. Pull, pull and pull some more. By this time my husband's brow was wet with sweat, and his brand new Hugo Boss white boating shirt was getting splattered with mud and seaweed that was coming up with the line.

Finally after several minutes of pulling, he could just make out the shape of the trap. There was a large whitish-gray mass coming up with the trap. But what could it be? Was it a log? Was it a block of cement that a commercial trapper had put in? Was it a seal, trapped in the pot? It was still too far down to see clearly. He pulled some more. As it was getting closer and within reach, the line snapped from the strain. My husband was thrown back towards the other side of the boat and the mud went flying everywhere!

It was lost! The trap and its contents, whatever they might have been, were gone. Our mouths stopped watering. There would be no prawns for dinner once again. We've puzzled over this one for a long time. What was in that trap that made it so heavy? I guess we will never know.

And our friends, Jan and Hank, have purchased and lost several more traps since this experience. They tell us that they have enjoyed many dinners on their Bayliner complements of their traps, but they never seem to catch anything when we are out with them. Strange coincidence or not?! Maybe it is just one of those fishing stories!

Valerie Giles owns and operates Boats, Anchors and More a boating resource site featuring boat accessories, boat chartering, new & used boats, fishing lure manufacturers, inflatable boats, outerwear, thermal underwear & sunglasses. Everything you need for the boating season.


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