I was in disbelief when my friend, Matt, invited me to go crab fishing. Me, of all people, fishing for crabs？ Yes, I had some fishing experience as a young girl, holding a dirty worm as bait between my fingers, careful not to crush the poor thing. But in Minnesota, a state with no immediate access to the ocean, plain old fish is the closest thing to seafood that we have. In the end, crab fishing sounded fun, and I was up for a challenge.
Once it got dark, Matt picked me up and brought me to Shangqi Elementary school in Little Kinmen, where his LETs (local English teachers) were waiting. They were ready to fish, and already had buckets and fishing nets attached to long and short bamboo sticks. They also had flashlights because, after all, this adventure was late-night fishing. We drove our scooters into the darkness towards Qing Yuan Lake and felt the wind against our skin. The air was humid, but had a light coolness. It feltlike a great night for fishing.
After we arrived, the LETs immediately started to flash their lights onto the surface of the lake, near the shore. Matt and I were unsure of how to act, so we followed them with our flashlights. Within a minute, one of the LET's husbands yelled out to us. He had already found a crab！ At first, it was difficult for me to see the crab - I wasn't sure what I was supposed to look for. But then I saw a nice round crab, sitting on a rock near the bridge. I couldn't believe it. Was the crabyelling to us, "Catch me, catch me！"？
We were high above, so the LET's husband climbed over the bridge railing and steadily moved himself closer to the crab. He took the long fishing nets and with one swoop, captured the crab. We cheered and whooped at his swift and expert-like technique. This first crab ended up being our biggest catch of the night.
For the next hour we scavenged under bridges, in streams, and under rocks looking for crabs. The longer we hunted, the better we became at finding crabs. The ones under rocks were sometimes hard to catch because they would dig themselves intothe sand. When we tried to capture them in our nets, they would try to claw themselves out, causing Matt and me to squirm. As we made our way towards the beach that overlooked the metropolitan lights of Xiamen, we also saw shrimp jumping in the streams, and little white crabs skittering away into the moonlight.
We caught around nine crabs and took them back to Shangqi to share with the other teachers. One of the LETs cleaned them and snipped their clippers off, allowing Matt and me to safely hold them as we posed for a picture. To cook them, she simply steamed them in a rice cooker, adding a splash of rice wine. Crab had never tasted as satisfying, having put so much work into catching them ourselves.
Crab fishing is one of many unique cultural experiences that I have been fortunate enough to experience here on Kinmen. I doubt I would have such an incredible experience anywhere else. These experiences not only push me to be more adventurous but also leave me wanting more. Who knows what I'll be able to try next？ Octopus fishing, anyone？