Posted by Lunch Nut on June 08, 2005 at 13:12:55:
It was a lazy lunch time on a Monday afternoon near the business district of Long Beach California. It was a rather hazy early afternoon with a very slight breeze mulling it’s way through these tall business buildings of commerce. I was finishing my midday soup and salad meal at one of my favorite hangouts when suddenly my ears perked up at the discussion in the next booth. I filtered out the loud kitchen noises and tropical Muzak and dialed into the conversation at hand.
“Do you fish for lobster?” asked a rather thin and bald shaven man that seemed to be in his mid to late 20’s. He was sporting a rather neatly kept strawberry red goatee wearing business attire with a dress shirt and tie. He was dressed in something you would see a retail clothes salesman or a junior banker wear. He and his friend were eating lunch inside this area restaurant famous for its seafood.
“Not really. I do scuba dive for them” replied the second man who was wearing faded blue jeans and a black t-shirt with something fish related printed on the back. He was a bit chunkier with a hint of an accent in his speech I couldn’t place. He appeared to be of Asian descent, shorter and slightly older. “Len and I go to Catalina every other weekend or so to catch them. I don’t really consider that fishing for them though.”
“You don’t fish for them? How so?” asked Baldy.
“Well, you don’t fish or net them, you grab them with your hands” the Asian continued. “You can use a snagging net, but the really easy way to get them is to just scuba dive and grab them. It’s more like tracking them down and grabbing them, then putting them into a sack”.
“Sounds like a lot of work” replied Baldy. “Can you catch a lot that way?”
Asian replied “All you want. There really isn’t any secret to it. You just find them and catch them. I catch at least 20 or so on one tank of air. As long as you have a lobster license the sky’s the limit”.
“I thought that there was some kind of a limit on catching lobsters. In fact, I know there is because I read it in the fishing regulations booklet. What’s the limit?” asked Baldy. “Don’t they have to be a certain size or weight?”
“Yeah, there is a size length limit, but no weight limit. Nobody takes the limit seriously though. I mean if you catch and eat your lobster the same day, who’s going to know how many you caught or if they were too big or too small. It doesn’t really matter to the homies. When I show up at Tukko’s on a Saturday night with enough lobster tail for the entire clan, they give you props on coming through” bragged the Asian. “I love to take care of my guys. There are 4 or 5 of us that do it regularly.”
They both sat quietly for about a minute eating a few pieces of fish and fries and taking a drag off their iced teas. A waitress came by and refilled their glasses. It was at that time Baldy blurted out almost the exact same questions I was asking myself.
“Aren’t you afraid of being caught with more lobsters than what’s legal? What would happen to you if you get caught with lobsters that aren’t big enough to be legal?
“I have never been caught in 11 years that I have been catching them. Come to think about it, I don’t know of anyone who has ever been caught. I have never been asked by a game warden or policeman if I even have lobsters. What are they going to do to me anyway? It’s not like they are endangered fish or anything. No one I know cares unless they don’t get any.”
With that, my lunch eaten and the bill paid, I stood up and glanced at the two having the conversation as I left for my car, etching their faces into my memory.
This was but one happenstance. It was a total random and per chance occurrence in me over hearing such a conversation. Perhaps the Asian was totally BS-ing his lunch partner, perhaps not. Still if true, one has to wonder;
How many more of these conversations have been happening independently of Baldy and Asian’s? How many hundreds of lobster and other sport fish are being taken every weekend illegally year around? I believe the real problem to poaching is not the divers but the arrogant butt holes that think no one knows they are doing it.
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