Home > August, 2009
Looking for something different this summer? Try one of these fast action fighters… on for size!
One saltwater fish found throughout Florida and providing some awesome light tackle angling thrills is none other than the unwavering bluefish. Most fish around the Florida area weigh somewhere around 2 to 6 pounds and any over that are a real treat. In 1972 off the coast of North Carolina, the recognized IGFA record was caught weighing in at 31 pounds, 12 ounces.
Blues are a schooling fish with relatively large heads, powerful jaws and a mouth full of incredibly sharp teeth. Their tapered bodies end in deeply forked tails making them powerful swimmers and fighters. They’re decorated with blue/green backs, silvery sides, and white/silver bellies, but don’t sell them short these beautiful fish have plenty of muscle and speed.
Rigging for Blues is much like rigging for any toothy fish. Wire leaders are a must or at least 60# or better fluorocarbon with long shank hooks. When fishing live baits I use a short piece of 60# Seaguar fluorocarbon tied to my braid then attach a 12” piece of 30# Tyger Leader (black or bronze) and a bright long-shank 1/0 Daiichi hook. I belly hook the greenback at the pectoral fin, cast it out and the bluefish take care of the rest.
Fish can often be caught on any type of fast-moving lure that resembles a baitfish, including metal spoons, jigs, and tube baits. If you like artificial’s try a shinny spoon or old topwater lure tied to your braid with a dark leader wire leader. Make sure it’s an old lure because you might not get it back.
You might also try trolling on the hot, humid, no wind days. Once you hook-up stop and start fan casting around the area. The fish are there you just need to find them.
It’s not uncommon to find schooling bluefish sharing the same bait schools as mackerel, ladyfish and jacks. If you’re using whitebait/greenbacks start by tossing a few around the area you are fishing. If bluefish are present it won’t take long to get them going. Keep the live chums going and the fish will usually stay within casting distance.
If like using a fly rod here’s your chance to tangle with a fish that give no quarter. Extra strong leaders and larger flies that resemble the most popular regional baitfish will do the trick.
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The first thing you’ll need to make this a successful dish is a dinner guest who’s not afraid to tear claw from carapace and suck the sweet meat from the shell. Serves two.
One dozen fresh clams
6 large blue crabs
6 large shrimp
2 ears of sweet corn, trimmed and cut in half
4 small potatoes, cut in half diagonally
2 tbs. Old Bay or Zatarin’s seafood seasoning
3 cloves of garlic diced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 dash of Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce
Juice of one lemon
Lemon wedges for garnish
1 tbs. salt
Start with the Clams
Start with a large stock pot, add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, hot sauce and sea salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and clams and steam with the lid on until the clams just open, about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and clarified rosemary butter.
The Main Course
Fill the pot about half way with cool well water, add 2 tbs. Old Bay or Zatarin’s seafood seasoning and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, the corn and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the corn and check the potatoes. They may need a minute or two more.
Carefully grab the live crabs and bring them to a swift end by submerging them in boiling water. Cook for 8 minutes and remove immediately. Toss the shrimp and the par boiled corn in the pot and boil for 2 to 3 minutes.
Season the crabs with more Old Bay and arrange whole lot on the pretty pink newsprint. Garnish with parsley and serve with clarified rosemary butter and buttered Cuban bread.
I haven’t a clue where it really originated. But I do know that it is only found here in Florida and is very popular with the Spanish community. When growing up we used to have a great time catching blue crabs in Tampa Bay; either using a net to scoop them up as we waded the shallow grass flats or using a string and some chicken necks, in back-country creeks to bring them close to shore and net them. My Aunt Eleanor’s recipe was the best ever but seems to have been lost after her passing. However, I got this one from my cousin Bill who besides being our family archivist is one the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
It’s great for family outings but Beware!!!! This is a very messy dish when served with crabs. We take this outside on a newspaper covered picnic tables. Then you can really dive into this wonderful meal. You’ll need nut crackers, butter knives, an old shirt and clean hands to start.
24 large cleaned blue crabs
2 pounds of fresh crabmeat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (48 ounces) tomatoes with puree
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon Tabasco/Crystal hot sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (or Zatarain’s Crab boil seasoning)
Salt & pepper to taste
2-3 pounds spaghetti, cooked and drained
Bring an extra large pot ¾’s full of water to a boil, add 3 tablespoons of Old Bay Crab Boil or Zatarain’s Crab Boil and plunge crabs into water cooking until they pink. Then place in cold water until cooled. Remove the back, and clean out the crab making certain to remove the finger looking things which are the lungs. With a mallet crack the claws. Break the body into two pieces leaving the legs attached to each half. Place in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a large stainless steel stock pot (not aluminum), heat olive oil, sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender. Add 2 can of tomatoes with puree, add 1 can of tomato paste, and add hot sauce, sugar, bay leaves, salt/pepper, oregano, and Old Bay seasoning.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer cook, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 2 hours. Cook the day before, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you’re ready to serve heat the sauce and add blue crabs to sauce 30 minutes before serving time.
Serve over cooked spaghetti with lot’s of hot buttered Cuban bread.