With time on my hand, and determination to not be pinned down to one location in the great State of Louisiana, my wandering travels take me to Lake Charles, a beautiful city on the south-west side of the state. Here by the Calcasieu River Bridge, I met a fisherman named Warren. With multiple lines down, it looks like he’s a very busy man.
There at his feet, lies a milk crate full of crabs. The crabs were your basic blue crabs that dominate seafood cuisine. “Wow, how did you catch these?” I asked.
The fisherman then explained to me, in a calm southern gentlemen drawl, that he places raw chicken on a string and waits until something tugs on it. Then he uses this other milk crate to scrape the crabs up as a trap. Wow… I never went crabbing before. And this guy here is an expert at it.
Can I take your picture while you do this?
“Sure you can bruh,” he says while tending to his lines. Warren seemed like one of the nicest people you would ever meet. Calm, cool, and accepting. I can picture someone stereotyping him or even being intimidated by his appearance. With his calm Louisiana-urban style accent, he can easily voice-act or be someone in a movie. A man of simplicity in the Deep South, a keen ear can tell that this southern gentleman is more intelligent than he looks. Perhaps he even does it on purpose; appear simplistic on purpose just to catch folks by surprise later. Maybe he did what I did as a teenager in Washington D.C. and adapted a simplistic cloth as camouflage.
I introduced myself as a wandering photographer, and he introduced himself as Warren. He was also fishing with another line, going for both types of seafood.
While talking, a crab climbs out of the milk crate, heading back for the waterfront, almost instinctively. A crab got out? That’s amazing I thought, being that there’s a saying that goes that crabs don’t let other crabs go free — a crab holds other crabs back. Interestingly, this has become an insult within the black community. “Crab asses” are the type of person who hold others back; cannot stand to see someone else free. I never made use of the term being that if a crab held other crabs back then calling someone a crab means you HAVE to be a crab for them to effect you. Needless to say, I never figured that one was well thought out. Anyway after that crab’s recapture, I had to ask him with furrowed brow: “Hey Warren, is it true that crabs hold each other back? I mean we just witnessed one getting away, and it climb on the back of the others to do it!”
“Yeah man that’s definitely true.”
“But we just seen one get away! You got him, but…”
“Naw, that’s a very rare event my man. You’ll never see crabs do that often!”
It was fun times by Lake Charles. The first time I experienced crabbing, and learned that crabs despite their nature, are capable of defeating other crabs holding them down. Incredibly rare though. Must be one smart ass crab.
My main intent was to catch the sunset by the bridge at his crabbing location. Warren in good spirit, knowing that I’m just as passionate with photography as he is with fishing and crabbing on his home river, told me precisely where to be for a good shot. I nodded, “Thanks,” shook his hand and explained that I’m going back to town to the art show. As I arrive an hour or so later, Warren was long gone, but his advice was golden: