Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ocean - A Giant Grocery Store!

I’ve often wondered how anyone living near the ocean could ever be hungry. I mean really – it’s like a giant grocery store! And even better, all the food there is free! I guess that’s the main reason many ancient tribes and civilizations made their settlements on or near coastlines – for survival. It’s a shame that much of the human population is so far removed from the food chain that they no longer know how to obtain food unless it’s wrapped in neat little trays or enclosed in a can or a box of some sort.
I’ve been a saltwater angler my entire life, and I’ve always been able to catch fish in the ocean, even as a child. I might not have always caught the species of fish I was targeting, but I assure you that if I were fishing for survival, I wouldn’t be too picky about the fish I was having for a meal – as long as it was edible. For example, bluefish isn’t my favorite, but it’s high in protein and fat, and I could learn to love it if it meant my survival. Same goes for saltwater sail cats. With the right fish recipes, just about any fish can be made to taste good.
Besides the less salient edible fish, there are numerous delicious fish available in the ocean. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with all the oceans of the world. I’ve fished only in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. I can vouch for the fact that in the southeastern United States alone, we have all kinds of tasty fish that can be landed from shore. In fact, I’ve caught all these good-eating fish from either the shore or from a fishing pier: redfish, flounder, sheepshead, whiting, spot, croaker, trout, weakfish, pompano, black drum, lookdown, cobia, mangrove snapper, small grouper, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, and cobia. We’ve also caught several different species of sharks, and shark meat is delicious. The “wings” of rays and skates are edible, too. I hear from a good source that they taste like scallops. If you have a boat and can get to offshore waters, you’ll have access to even more fish. These might include king mackerel, wahoo, mahi-mahi, billfish, triggerfish, sea bass, large grouper, several species of snappers, tunas, and amberjack. And don’t forget about the octopus and the squid, which are also edible.
Now let’s discuss the critters that live in shells. Okay, the average person might have a hard time procuring a lobster, but there are others that are easy to find. Take the whelk, for instance. We find these large shells all the time, but we’ve never eaten the flesh of the animal that resides there. I don’t know anyone who does, either. I researched whelk, however, and they’re perfectly edible. You don’t even have to chase them!
Another shelled creature that’s easy to obtain is the clam. Our kids used to enjoy clamming when they were young, although they didn’t much care for the clams when I served them up for dinner. Of course, all that would change with hunger and survival.
Several species of crabs inhabit our local waters, and they’re delicious! I often wonder why more people don’t try to catch their own crabs. It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t take a lot of skill. The same goes for oysters. Heck, they can’t even run from you!
I’ll be providing some specific saltwater fishing tips soon, so come back!

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