Sorry I’ve been missing some columns lately. Camping with the family and long hours at the shop, combined with life stuff in general, has consumed most of my waking and even some of my sleeping hours. An example of this is last week when I put on some fresh Dungeness crab to boil in the back of the shop.
I put my fresh crab and a liberal amount of Cajun spice into my boiling water and turned up the heat. I worked a couple more hours at the shop and headed home. I’m not sure exactly what I did when I got home, but apparently at some point I wandered to the bed and stayed there.
I woke up about 10:30 a.m. and was in that place between awake and asleep when suddenly an image of boiling crab appeared in my mind. As quick as I could I pulled up one of my outside security cameras and sure enough there was smoke — lots of smoke.
At this point in the story I am neither confirming nor denying passing people at a high rate of speed on Cape Arago Road but if I did, which I probably didn’t, I apologize. I burst through the front door and was met with a thick acrid smoke. As I bolted to the door to the lounge I was already prepping for the worst. Calling 911 was to be my first step, followed by charging up the outside garden hose and mitigating damage.
Fortunately, the old adage of “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” isn’t always true. I cranked the propane tank shut and assessed the damage. Nothing. No fire, no scorch marks, just a burned and warped stainless steel pot, a lid welded shut with a thick gooey burnt crab paste and an overwhelming feeling of relief.
I like to fancy myself as somewhat of a cook, and most of what I know has been learned from trial and error. In this particular instance I learned that five and a half hours is a bit on the long side to boil or steam crab. Feel free to use this knowledge yourself.
Let’s talk fishing now. There’s tons of bait coming into the bay and with it salmon should follow. We know of a few chinook caught lately and a few coho as well.
Surf perch fishing is hit or miss off the beaches with an overall rating of good. Rockfish has been good to very good overall, but there’s a mid-day lull where they seem to just not be interested in anything other than napping. Lingcod remain elusive; we have seen some really nice ling but they are the exception as of late.
And just in case you haven’t heard yet, the tuna are in town. Well, not exactly in town, but about 30 to 40 miles out. We’ve only had a few days of tuna fishing at the time of writing, but most sport boats were coming in with fish numbering 20 to 40.
Last week, just before the tuna bite came on, we had a trio of customers spend a few days out this way with a specific goal of catching a shark — a big shark — and boy-o-boy did they ever catch a big shark.
Ted, Jack and Trapper spent many hours trolling and chumming, looking for a leviathan to bring up from the deep. They saw and caught some smaller blue sharks, spotted some monsters, and then finally caught the fish of a lifetime.
After a fight lasting over an hour and spending another hour getting their catch on board, these gentlemen were the proud owners of a 9-foot-7 inch shortfin mako shark.
What? We have mako sharks in our water? Yep we sure do, and great whites and threshers and blues — the list goes on and on.
The mako shark can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh up to 300 pounds. It gets to that size by eating whenever meal presents itself. Schools of squid, mackerel, tuna and bait thrown by Ted, Jack and Trapper rate high on its list of preferences, but don’t think that means other critters are safe. Seabirds, dolphins, turtles and yes, even people, have fallen prey to these apex predators.
As the fastest species of shark, the mako stalks its prey from below using the element of surprise to its advantage, with bursts of speed reaching almost 50 mph.
With a high metabolic rate and the ability to generate heat from within, the mako is 7 to 10 degrees warmer than its surroundings. This exothermic capability allows it to maintain a stable, high rate of activity, a huge advantage when hunting.
The mako will eat roughly 3% to 4% of its weight daily in food, which really isn’t all that impressive considering I ate over 4% of my body weight in crawfish jalapeno poppers in one sitting last weekend. Add to this that I often drive well over 50 mph and I’m thinking that makos should fear me, not the other way around.
The mako shark will bear four to 20 offspring every three years with a gestation period of up to 18 months.
Now to the best part — mako is good eating. No, great eating. I can honestly say I have never had a more tender, yet firm, moist piece of anything that swims in my entire eating career.
It is lightly flavored and not at all oily. I would eat it over tuna any day. Here’s what I do: I brush the fish with olive oil, season with crushed salt and fresh cracked pepper, place fresh rosemary on top and grill with lemon wedges. As the fish cooks to a perfect internal temperature of 139 degrees, the lemons and rosemary will combine with the fish to create an extravaganza for the taste buds. Yeah, this redneck does like me some fancy cooking.
Whether you are eating mako or being eaten by one, I hope to see you out there.