John’s Note: Mississippi’s marine biologist Jill Zednick holds three World Records. In the next few days, she’s going to tell us about taking her three World Record saltwater fish, why she takes crab with a bow and how to eat them, and how to know when back bay and estuary areas are best for shooting.
Blue crabs are a really challenging target for the bowfisherman because when you’re shooting anything underwater, the light’s refracted off the fish, causing the fish to appear higher in the water than it actually is. The rule of thumb for the bowfisherman is to aim a little lower than where you see the fish when you take the shot. However, because the crabs are usually in less than a foot of water, I usually aim center mass when I shoot. But crabs are so quick that often, just about the time I release the arrow, they’ll either hear, see or know to get out of the way, and I miss two or three blue crabs for every one I take.
Many people believe that cooking crabs is like cooking crawfish in that the crabs and crawfish have to be alive when you drop them into water that also has crab boil (a mixture of spices and seasonings) in it. What we do is unscrew the fish point off of an arrow and let the crab slide down our fish arrow into the ice chest. The ice keeps the crab cold, and the meat doesn’t spoil. When we get the crabs home, we cut off the swimmerets (the paddle-like legs on the sides of the crab). Next we’ll break the claws off, and either put them in the refrigerator, if we’re going to eat them in the next day or so, or freeze them for later. We take the shells off, clean the crab out, make up a fish fry batter and fry the center meat of the crab. Some people take a rolling pin and mash up the meat in the middle of the crab, then batter the flattened crab meat for frying and eating it. When we eat the claws, we just boil them in Crab Boil, crack them open and eat them. We also take the meat out of the claws and make a gumbo with them.
I’m often asked how I got into bowfishing. Although I grew up in the city, I always liked to go hunting. When I met Josh, I learned he liked to hunt too. Josh also knew that I liked to fish, so he introduced me to the sport of bowfishing. I never had shot archery before, but I practiced often and really got into bowfishing. I like to bowfish at night because not only do I get to harvest fish and crabs that I enjoy eating, but I get to see numbers of critters out in the estuaries where we bowfish that I may not see in the daytime. We’ll see crabs, nutria, snakes, turtles and freshwater fish; and just last week we saw a sturgeon laying still on the bottom.
To learn more about saltwater fishing, check out “Alabama’s Inshore Saltwater Fishing: A Year-Round Guide for Catching More Than 15 Species,” “Alabama’s Offshore Saltwater Fishing: A Year-Round Guide for Catching Over 15 Species of Fish,” “Fishing Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and Visitor’s Guide,” “How to Fish Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in June” and “13 Saltwater Fish Recipes You Can’t Live Without,” available in Kindle eBooks and some print books.