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Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Decline of Great Bay's thriving aquaculture is a massive loss for us all

By DICK PINNEY July 22. 2017 9:10PM

GREAT BAY'S wonderful production of gourmet food has come to an unbelievable halt, and there's bound to be a lot of uninformed debate on how to get those species such as clams, oysters, smelt, herring, white perch, crabs, lobsters and other multiple flora and fauna that may slip my mind.

We've lived on or just across the street from Great Bay for about 50 years and have witnessed some incredible changes and, because of them, Jane and I have had to change our fundamental and regular harvests of its once great bounty of food and other products that we took for granted.

By just walking out our back door with "clam fork" (actually a clam digging rake) and "apple basket," we could harvest clams or oysters or both in no time that would feed our family for several days. We were quick enough to adapt the practice of floating our bounty in the basket that had a used a patched innertube to float behind us to relieve the tough work of dragging the heavy seafood behind us.

We actually mimicked what we watched as a nice bunch of "old timers" who regularly would show up to get their clams and oysters by just wading and picking by hand, rather than the tedious and more complicated effort of launching a boat and dragging long armed rakes to get their shellfish, and had developed the "basket and inner tube" approach.

With Great Bay's production of fish and shellfish just about gone, we seldom see anyone even working hard to gather enough for a meal!

Our easy approach to harvest a big percentage of our home diet has come to a virtual halt and we can't remember the last time we dined on freshly dug or picked harvest of any of the awesome seafood of our earlier days here on the "bay."

In the winter we could just walk out on the ice and slide our smelt shanty off its fishing hole, skim off the new ice, drop our weighted hooks down baited with bits of sea worms and start catching sea-run smelt, sometimes as fast as you could haul and re-bait you lines. If you've never eaten a meal of fresh caught saltwater smelt, rolled in corn meal and fried to a golden brown, you've missed one of life's great pleasured. Jane's homemade tartar sauce would really "seal the deal!"

Often on a nice early fall day before ice-in we'd pull on a set of rubber chest waders, drag along behind the basket (often we used a short-handled rake when the tide was too high to do this by hand) and find a sunny spot in our back yard to "shuck-em-out" and often call friends and neighbors over to share the bounty.

Get out there and get you some, and give thanks for having such a resource in our own back yard!

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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