This time of year, before the algae bloom obscures the water and begin feeding the oysters, we set off in our skiff to scour our oyster plot for sunken cages. Most of them, their buoys are submerged because a storm tumbled the cage and the buoy line wrapped around the cage. Some of the buoys have been cut by pleasure boaters who wander into our underwater plot and get tangled on one of our buoys. Their quickest exit is to cut the line. From May to December, our growing season, the water is full of algae and we won’t be able to see and tend those hidden cages.
The tool of choice is a grapnel hook. Mercator, our 14 year old who has been driving a boat since he was 3, will slowly circle portions of our 5 underwater acres and, when anyone in the boat spots a sunken cage, one of us tosses the grapnel hook and attempts to snare the treasure. The grapnel hook has 4 sharp prongs, one of which hopefully, will grab the cage. We hoist the hook with a winch and boat the cage. Since it has been untended for some time, it’s usually filled with large oysters and the the bags and cage are covered with all kinds of primitive life forms. Such a heavy cage will tilt the old boat and everyone has to lean on the far gunwale to balance the weight.
Invariably, we check out the found oysters – a cage of big ones is always a thrill. Our roundup occurs around the Easter bloom of algae, so I don’t remember us ever doing an Easter Egg hunt with the kids. We all suited up and looked for cages. All of us enjoy the annual Roundup – it marks the beginning of our season. The ‘found’ cages are extra sales, something special.
Yes – I want to email Mike