Crayfishing in the Western Cape

_DSF3150Crayfish is an extremely popular delicacy amongst seafood lovers the world over and we are very fortunate to live in the Western Cape, an area that is well-known for it’s excellent crayfish amongst other things. During the summer months it is crayfish season in the The Fairest Cape and if you have a valid licence and the required equipment, you can go crayfishing during this period. Now neither Jaunine nor myself are into fishing or catching crayfish but we both love eating it. Fortunately we have friends that are really into catching crayfish and that have developed  it into a fine art. So when we got invited to join in the fun of catching crayfish it was an easy decision to make and Jaunine promptly got herself the required licence for catching crayfish while I opted for observing this spectacle from terra firma instead.

The weather does not always play along though, but when it does it becomes an adventure worth experiencing! Let me explain – this particular group of crayfish enthusiasts are not content with just going out and catching crayfish, oh no – it has evolved into a day-long ritual that follows a very set and predictable sequence of events. No amount of explaining or photographs can accurately convey the feeling of this experience but I am going to try it nevertheless.

It usually starts off early on a Sunday morning when everybody gets together, hook up the boat on it’s trailer, pack some sandwiches and other paraphernalia, and then head off to the chosen crayfish catch-destination.

Heading for the ocean early on a Sunday morning.

Heading for the ocean early on a Sunday morning.

The trip to the fishing spot takes about an hour which passes very quickly because there usually is much yapping, laughter, and funny stories being exchanged. Arriving at the chosen spot the boat is quickly unloaded and prepared for launch. Crayfish nets and bait are loaded, followed by some food and beverages for the crew.

Preparations under way for going out on the ocean. Jaunine (right) is decked out in a wetsuit, even though the weather might be warm it does get quite cold on the ocean.

Preparations under way for going out on the ocean. Jaunine (right) is decked out in a wetsuit, even though the weather might be warm it does get quite cold on the ocean.

The crew gets on board and the engine is started.

The crew gets on board and the engine is started.

And off they go – heading for the the selected spot beyond the waves where the crayfish catch-baskets are lowered into the sea after being baited.

The crew wastes no time in heading off enthusiastically :-)

Our intrepid crew wastes no time in heading off enthusiastically 🙂

While our crew has shot off into the blue of the ocean things on the land side has not stood still, many enthusiasts arrive in a steady stream, prepare their boats and other watercraft, and then also head off into the waves.

Turns are being taken in launching the various boats at the slipstream.

Turns are being taken in launching the various boats at the slipstream.

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Crayfishing is not restricted to powered boats only, all types of boats and canoes are used.

Even rowboats are used.

Even rowboats are used.

No effort is spared at launching boats!

No effort is spared at launching boats!

There is much friendly banter between crews while launching.

There is much friendly banter between crews while launching.

More boats are being launched.

More boats are being launched.

Soon the bay is speckled by boats catching crayfish. Most cannot be seen from the shore because they are quite far away into the ocean, but a few prefer to hug the coastline.

Soon the bay is speckled with boats catching crayfish. Most cannot be seen from the shore because they are quite far away into the ocean, but a few prefer to hug the coastline.

Boats are usually out between one to two hours before returning, the time is usually determined by how quickly a catch is made. Several baited baskets are lowered in the water and then periodically inspected for crayfish. As soon as the quota of legal-sized crayfish is reached, it is time to head back to shore.

Heading back to shore .

Heading back to shore .

At last! After nearly two hours our crew is spotted, charging back to shore and  the noise and racket kicked up by them is clear indication of a successful trip 🙂

Our crew on a charge for the shoreline!

Our crew on a charge for the shoreline!

Enthusiastic waving by the crew, and Skipper Dirk proudly tilting his hat are clear indications of having landed an impressive catch.

Enthusiastic waving by the crew, and Skipper Dirk proudly tilting his hat are clear indications of having landed an impressive catch.

Once back at shore the necessary documentation is sorted out to ensure the catch is within limitations of the law.

Once back at shore the necessary documentation is sorted out to ensure the catch is within limitations of the law.

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The catch of the day.

Once the catch has been secured and the boat loaded on the tow-trailer, everybody heads of to the local bush-pub close by to celebrate success.

The happy crew enjoying a celebratory drink at a nearby pub.

The happy crew enjoying a celebratory drink at a nearby pub.

 

On this particular occasion we all moved outside to enjoy our drinks in glorious sunshine.

On this particular occasion we all moved outside to enjoy our drinks in glorious sunshine.

After the celebratory drinks the next event on the agenda is to head home, stopping halfway at a nearby coastal village for some ice-cream on the beach, a very important part of the ritual 🙂

Ice-cream on the beach - an important part of the day.

Ice-cream on the beach – an important part of the day.

After the ice cream it’s heading straight for home for the final celebration – a huge late afternoon crayfish lunch !

The crayfish is cooked in a bit of seawater in a huge pot.

The crayfish is cooked in a bit of seawater in a huge pot.

 

The crayfish turn red after being cooked for a few minutes indicating that it's ready to be eaten.

The crayfish turn red after being cooked for a few minutes indicating that it’s ready to be eaten.

While the crayfish is cooked, the boat is unloaded and cleaned, and more family members and friends arrive for the feast that is soon to follow.

Once cooked, the crayfish is put in a basket to be briefly rinsed before being brought to the lunch table.

Once cooked, the crayfish is put in a basket to be briefly rinsed before being brought to the lunch table.

By now drinks have been served, side dishes and salads are on the table, and about a dozen of hungry people are ready to dig in!

The crayfish are put into several dishes - ready for the luch table.

The crayfish are put into several dishes – ready for the lunch table.

The table is just about ready.

The table is just about ready.

Hungry crew members, family, and friends.

Hungry crew members, family, and friends.

Food for kings !

Food for kings !

After much chatting, eating, and drinking the catch of the day dwindles to a heap of empty shells while the sun is on it’s way to setting in the west.

Not much remains after a perfect feast - just leftover crayfish shells.

Not much remains after a perfect feast – just leftover crayfish shells.

As the sun set people lazily gets up, getting ready to go home.

Another perfect day in the Fairest Cape has come to an end 🙂

 

 

 

 

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