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Strike Out?

January 11, 2010

November 28, 2008

It’s too late for silversides. Just before the frigid weather hit, we cruised to the shore somewhere in Nauset Estuary and put the lights on the water – low beams and high beams. Little fish leaped, but it was a pas de deux.

A sweep of the net, then two, yielded a few little silversides and a mess of three inch shrimp. They looked like grass shrimp, but much larger than those usually found here.

My thoughts instantly turned to bait fishing for trout, perch and even giant pickerel and eels. Shrimp chum is the stuff of legends. Too exciting to ignore are tales of Goliath eels rising on too-small hooks from the bottom of a popular swimming pond, lured to the spot beneath the boat by a clever deep release of shrimp.

Boats and I aren’t getting along at the moment, so my next thought was fry oil. I hazarded a comparison to the fried scorpions often mentioned and shown during coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

Deep-fried insects came to mind, as a result of the shrimp’s tiny size, prominent antennae and probably crunchy exoskeleton. I also expected a burst of briny shrimp flavor, and I was right. They were very tasty and fun and the specimens that escaped the wok didn’t hold up well in the fridge for future bait, although a suspected striper snapped one off deep in a bayside creek several days later.

While it may have seemed like a swing and a miss on our mission to trap late schooling silversides, it worked out more like an effective bunt. As we were hanging around trying to gather some little fish, an affable gentleman in boots showed up at the shore with a basket brimming with oysters. He headed down to rinse his pickings with his wife and grandson looking on, and we soon had nearly a dozen Wellfleet oysters to enjoy with our paltry fry.

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