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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sunday Dec. 23 -- Time to get pissed off -- in a good way

Sunday, December 23, 2007: Waves: 5-6 feet out of the north with a smaller wind swell out of the south; winds have gone south. Water clarity: Despite the stir it is still good clarity; overall too rough to surf fish on many beachfront areas; boat fishing is borderline at best, due to rough seas and generally junk weather conditions.

Last-minute shopping for some folks is first-minute shopping for folks like myself. I’m just doing stretching exercises to get out there this evening and begin serious purchasing.

As for me: I put a giant arrow made out of Christmas lights on the front of my house pointing to my driveway in hopes St. Nick is an angler and sees the merit in getting my a new Lexus SUV, per similar commercials on TV. I know this is not the time of year to be thinking “self,” but I kinda like that celljpone commercial where the guy ends up keeping the best cellphone for himself: “Saving the best for numero ono.” I think that guy would have profited more by getting his wife a better pair of workout shorts. What the hell’s that lady doing anyway?

Anyway, it’s not too late to grab some 11th-hour stuffers from local tackle shops and such.

By the by, I got a surprise spurt of social skillfulness yesterday and actually went out of my way to ask some gals shopping at Kohl’s if it was cool or uncool to give gift cards as prime presents. They all felt it was a tad tacky as the “big” gift” but super all right as a 2nd, 3rd for 4th entrée. Also, it is an ideal gift to give those less-than-major folks on the gift list, just make sure the gift card is from an appropriate store. Don’t be giving the wife of your buddy a gift card from Victoria’s Secret.

PISSING MY VACATION AWAY:

The clamming is so bad on the flats that I’ve turned to harvesting piss clams – “soft shell” or “fryer” clams, as they’re more discreetly called by the likes of restaurant folks.

What an untapped – and fully delicious – bivalve commodity. In an area no wider than my truck’s bed, I got 150 clams in nothing flat – though a numb hand came along with them since you have to hand pick them by reaching down into deeper sand and mud, which is frigid this time of year. Piss clams are way too delicate for raking, except to take off the first three to five inches of upper sand/clay/mud material. They bust pretty easy. A busted shell renders this type clam nearly unusable, not for any sanitation reasons but because these are very grit-prone creatures and a busted shell lets grit inside, grit the animal cannot expel.

Purging is very vital with piss clams. The cooler method works great. After rinsing off surface sand and grit (I do that on-site at the flats), spread a load of clams (I put as many as 200) along the bottom of a max-large cooler; smaller cooler, fewer clams. Add saltwater to maybe 6 inches deep, well, above the clams, and let sit overnight. As with all clams, using a lot of freshwater is the kiss of death, however, some freshwater can be added to saltwater, maybe even an equal amount to make sure there is enough for a full purge.

A couple cool things happen during overnight purging. As all the clam gunk, along with the grit, is purged by the clam, the water soon gets absolutely crystal clear, regardless of how muddy it may have looked at first. This is the clams’ filtering action. Of course, the ugly stuff goes downward so you have very carefully remove the clean clams from the water since all that sludge is beneath them on the bottom of the cooler.

Point to ponder: Many folks (and I used to be one of them) just balk at the purge process. “Ahh, ya just cook ‘em and eat ‘em. Grit and all.” Well, just take a look at what the clams purged out and left on the cooler bottom. We ain;t talking just a few grains of sand but also this slimy mucousy stuff and long strands of fecal matter – by the loadful. Chew away, buddy, but I’ve become a purger.

Anyway, to do a double-purge number on any bivalves, you can carefully remove the overnight clams, empty that hideous looking stuff, rinse the cooler and repeat the flush out by repeating the spreading and covering with saltwater. Admittedly, that final purge seems a bit much but, man, are those clams sweet and clear after that – kinda like special occasion clams.

Cooking is done by boiling or steaming. Note: a ton of internalized water comes out of soft shell clams – and they cook a bit slower than hard shells, quahogs. The siphon part is basically inedible but works as a fine place to grip the clam when downing the rest. Again, they’re delectable. As with most of my seafood, I go big on Bay Seasoning.

Here’s a great information epicurean webpage of soft shells: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/105201 .

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