CROWNSVILLE, MD. — While many folks around the area were busy chipping away snow and ice from driveways and hauling in wood, suffering through a frigid winter in the Chesapeake region Lori Hall and Dan Mallonee were hard at work building crab pots and stringing trot lines in preparation for their Open House on April 11th.
The couple run Bay Country Crabbing Supplies located on Old Herald Harbor Road in Crownsville and each year hold an Open House at which they coach people on crabbing techniques and give great prices on various fishing and crabbing supplies.
Dan Mallonee has been crabbing and working the water for twenty years and puts what he has learned from his grandfather and father to work as a waterman, tradesman and conservationist to work for the good of other boaters, his customers and to conserve the Chesapeake.
As a shopkeeper, Dan points out that his crab pots are welded to add extra durability and stands behind his products, promising to fix a pot or replace it. His store stocks buoys for trot lines that conform with new Maryland laws for visibility; crab steamers; crab nets; trot-line, and mallets and paper towel holders for great Father’s and Mother’s Day presents. One of the more unusual items in his assortment of products, many of which can be selected on his website and available to be shipped anywhere – is an oyster shucker.
Dan says just pop that old ‘arster’ in the contraption and push down on the handle and spare your stab wounds in your hand. The oyster is opened quickly without all the attendant drama and pain.
Working the water several days a week while working full-time at the Curtis Bay Coast Guard work yard as a welder keeps Mallonee jumping but he still finds time for volunteering with the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As a small boy, Mallonee was up early at the crack of dawn and out on the water learning all the ways of a waterman and from a waterman’s viewpoint, his views would find favor with most folks who are concerned about protecting the vast resources of the Chesapeake for future generations.
When asked what kills oysters, Mallonee was quick to answer:
“Water temperature, water quality and diseases,” said Mallonee. “The view of many is that commercial watermen have it easy. That is just not true. We have to fight the weather, the economy, conform to regulations and we have to do it right. Most of us support the rules and regulations as we know that the spirit of the law is to protect the resources from being depleted.”
Just like a few bad apples among commercial watermen created a bad reputation for the industry, ‘Crabber Dan’ points out that some recreational fishermen completely flaunt all regulations. There are many watermen who post on Facebook in response to articles recently published in THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY that complain about one-sided enforcement of the law.
Mallonee says that he has witnessed flagrant violations by recreational crabbers in the summer at local landings and that enforcement could be better but acknowledges that Natural Resources Police are stretched thin.
“As for me, I don’t keep the small ones,” said Mallonee. “DNR allows the females to be kept in September”.
Mallonee has strong views regarding poachers.
“Poachers should suffer loss of license for a year, depending on the severity on first offense,” said Mallonee. “They should be required to work community service back to the area of the state. Repeat offenders should permanently lose their license and get jail time.”
For the serious crab eaters, Bay Country sells crab openers and a number of serious crab cookers and steamers – and depending on the time of the week and the bounty of the bay – also sells crabs as well.
Oyster heads and oyster handles are a stocked item and shafts and tongs are hand built and available for sale.
At the 3rd Annual Open House, Lori and Dan will be starting off at 9 am with hamburgers and oysters and prizes. One door prize is a crabbing charter boat trip and the winner must be present to win at 670 Old Herald Harbor Road in Crownsville. Other prizes include topless crab pots and a 600’ trotline.
See on Facebook at Bay Country Crabbing Supply and online.