John - the crab fisherman
”When I say 6am Rick, I mean it. I wait for no one. My time is money”
"Be on the beach at 6am Rick" That was the message I got from John the night before. It had taken me some time to meet up with John due to the shocking winter weather we've had this year. John reckoned this was one of the worst winters he could remember for some 22 years. That’s the time he’s spent at sea. Another aspect that harboured us meeting this year was our Cornish waters were just too cold for the start of the season to get underway. Colder waters, no crabs, no fishing. That can be the harsh reality at times but that’s all part of fishing.
John fishes out of the small Cornish village of Cadgwith, located on the South West tip of Cornwall. It’s a picture postcard village steeped in fishing history.
That 6am start John mentioned to me, didn’t quite go that way. I was late. Only by 10 minutes but late. ”When I say 6am Rick, I mean it. I wait for no one. My time is money” Stern words from John but totally understandable. I said no more other than, sorry !
So, we headed out to sea to lift the crab pots that John had laid some days ago. A string of pots located at certain points in and around a 4 mile area off shore. Jake, the deckhand made ready the boat and the first string of pots was lifted. One after another yielded the brown crab John was fishing for. Some too small, some just right and some just massive. I was amazed to see John throwing crabs back in and had to question him why - "the shells are too soft" he replied. Crabs shed their shells and grow new ones and if those shells are just too new, they’re no good. They are thrown back in for another day and another catch. John could tell which was which purely by touch, soft to the touch being no good for the market.
It’s worth remembering , Cornish fishermen are a tough bunch and it’s a very dangerous job, even for the skilled ones. Many have lost their lives at sea leaving loved ones behind. Support their families when you