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Blue Crab Fishing in Harwich – “They Are Tremendous Eating”

Blue crabs in Harwich
Written by Brian Tarcy

HARWICH – “It’s different,” said Jeffrey LaVoie as he stood on a bridge over the Herring River and fished for blue crabs.

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Jeffrey, a horticulturalist, and his wife, Karen LaVoie, an attorney, live in Orleans and describe themselves as “avid outdoorsmen.” They spend a lot of time on the water fishing, but crab fishing is relatively new to them.

Blue crabs in Harwich

Karen LaVoie holds the line with the chicken while Jeffrey Lavoie prepares to snag a crab with a net.

“It’s certainly a hoot for us to be on a bridge fishing,” he said.

It is an interesting process involving a rope with a piece of chicken hooked to it, and a long net to snatch the crab as it it goes for the chicken. Jeffrey said he learned about it when he first heard that the crabs returned to the Cape a few years ago.

“They hadn’t been around for years,” said Karen.

So when Jeffrey heard that people were finding blue crabs, he told Karen they needed to go looking. One day, he pulled up to this bridge in Harwich and found an older fisherman catching crabs. So he parked his truck and told the fisherman he wanted to pick his brain for a couple of hours.

“Once he knew I was a real fisherman, he began to share some secrets,” said Jeffrey.

“He was fishing with blue fish,” recalled Jeffrey. “He said, ‘Blue crab, blue fish.”

Blue crabs in Harwich

Trying to entice a crab with chicken.

Jeffrey and Karen have used fish as bait before, but he laughingly called the chicken wings and thighs he was using, “an old recipe.”

Crab fishing is not for the impatient. “You have to be patient, just like any fisherman,” he said. And each crab must be measured. To be legal, said Jefferey, they have to be five inches “from point to point.”

They had been on the bridge for about five hours. There was a two-hour time span when they caught zero. The best fishing, he said, is when the tide is moving.

In about five afternoon hours, they caught 13 crabs and were going for 15. “Fifteen will make an appetizer of crab cakes for four,” said Jeffrey.

But it is not easy or fast. Put simply, he said, after you catch the crabs, “the next day you meat them, and the third day you eat them.”

Blue crabs in Harwich

Every crab must be measured.

Catching the crabs, said Jeffrey, means “the party’s only started. You have to steam the crabs and then you have to dismantle them. Tediously picking the meat. It can take literally hours.”

As Karen put it, “So you really have to like the people you are preparing the crabcakes for.”

At the end of all the work, there is the reward. “They are tremendous eating,” said Jeffrey.

Of course, it is not all work. When asked why they were there when they could be anywhere on such a beautiful Cape Cod day, he just smiled and said, “Look around.”

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About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
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Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at

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