Buck and I made it out for a good spearfishing session a week ago. The water was not particularly clear, but the seas were very calm and we were happy to get out. We had both been drying out way too long and were really happy to dive in and rehydrate. Once out beyond the inner kelp bed and pinnacles, we stopped off to gather some fresh sea water.
Buck had two full bottles loaded onto the Banksboard in a flash. Then we moved out to deeper water to see if we could find some pinnacles in the 30-40ft depth range. Once located, I dropped down a few times and located several cracks in the rock loaded with scallops. Working my trusty bar around the circumference of the shells to locate the proper point whereby I could pry, each scallop allowed me to slip the pry in and pop it loose from the rock below. On the surface I scraped the shells free of crabs, tube worms, algae and other sea life that reside on these tiny bivalve ecosystems. Some made their way back to the reef while others were scooped up by a swarm of señoritas, happy for the free meal. At least they were not going to waste.
We made our way shallower as I was hoping today would bring Buck his first fish…and it did! He speared a small black perch, and was thrilled! However when he got it to the surface, he insisted I shoot the photo of him “seal style” as he put it “because I would feel better if I had got this little guy with my teeth!” However, I assured him that perch have no size limit for a reason; they are the most abundant fish in our waters. And starting with a small black perch is way better than spearing a 50lbs halibut on your first dive, as you may not top such a catch in 20 years. Buck agreed with a grin and loaded his catch on the Banksboard.
We are opportunistic foragers in many ways, today we were hungry and our freezers empty. We did what we could and happily harvested a small group of the abundance we encountered. The scallops made excellent sashimi, and the fish made a great college spearo staple-tacos on the cheap!
We cooked down the fresh sea water into a thick cloudy slurry, placed it into dishes and allowed it to evaporate in the sun for a few days.
Then we scrapped the bottom of the dishes to find more tasty, fresh sea salt than we could use in a month!
This was a truly great little everyday foraging adventure, and left us with food for the table, the freezer and a tasty homemade garnish as well.
Remember, even on the days when the sea is not clear or the big fish are not near, when the sun does not shine bright, do not lose sight. There is fun to be had by field or by flood, when the forager spirit runs in your blood. Always strive to keep the old ways alive!