Park ranger Andy Ransone will offer tips on catching crabs and making crab pots Saturday at Belle Isle State Park.
A Lancaster native, Ransone’s roots run deep into the area, the water and the park.
His family ties here date from the early settlers of the Northern Neck who arrived in the 1600s. He grew up on Deep Creek which borders the park, and worked on the farm that occupied the land many years before it became a state park.
“I grew up on the water. My uncles had crab and oyster houses. As far back as I can remember I was running around catching things on shore,” says Ransone.
At age 25 he began making crab pots, and then began using them to make money.
“It was nothing for me to check 100 pots in the morning before I went to work,” he says.
Then he began other water ventures. He spent six years as a full-time commercial waterman, but due to low oyster production had to pursue other occupations.
“I remember when the oysters just died out. It looks like they’re starting to make a comeback now though,” says Ransone.
He has been a ranger at Belle Isle State Park since 1999 and he continues to farm several hundred acres. He also has continued to work the water over the years, including crabbing, oyster dredging and tonging, fishing and gill netting.
“I’ve kept my commercial license and I still like do that type of stuff for my family and friends,” he says.
Some folks might be wondering what the big thrill of crabbing is, especially when you can easily buy a bushel of crabs. For Ransone, the explanation is simple: “It’s just fun to go out there and hunt for them. You have to experiment here and there to see where they are. It really is like hunting on the water.”
After so many years on the water and gathering generations of stories, Ransone has lots of interesting information to pass on.
The park will provide all the materials needed to make the crab pots. Additionally, Ransone will offer tips on crabbing, share the history of watermen and crabbing in the area and answer any attendee questions. All ages are welcome.
The fee is $30. Make reservations at 462-5030.