Last weekend, the wife and I dropped a five-pot string in about 400 feet near a favorite anchorage in Port Nellie Juan. Because there was a pretty strong current, we simply released the anchored line slowly, allowing no slack to gather, until the entire 600 feet of line was paid out. The bottom was mud and pebbles, and we were approximately 200 yards from a ledge plunging into deeper water. Despite the odd conditions, we have done well at that spot in the past.
We observed another boat approximately 300 yards distant, apparently trolling for silvers near shore. They appeared preoccupied, so we ignored them, dropping our set and heading into our nearby anchorage for the night. Perhaps an hour later, we were joined by that vessel and then one other boat.
Morning came, and the vessel we had seen trolling the evening before headed out of the anchorage. Ten minutes later, the second boat pulled anchor and headed out. Twenty minutes after that, our anchor was up, and the wife and I were headed toward our set, expecting a gallon to a gallon and a half per pot.
As we approached our drop location, we observed each of the two other boats nearby. The trollers appeared to be back at it, but they were only 150 yards away from our pots. The other vessel was drift fishing for rockfish about 300 yards away. Someone had dropped a string of pots about 75 yards away from ours.
We retrieved our buoy and began to take up line. Up came the first pot, containing about a gallon of good looking four spots. Relief! This was going to be a decent haul.
Then up came the second pot – completely empty. Eh? My initial assumption was that the line must somehow have tangled, keeping this pot off of bottom.
Up came the third pot – another gallon of four spots. My theory seemed to be confirmed, until…
Up came the fourth pot – completely empty. I mean, not one shrimp, snail, sea star, or sculpin. Absolutely empty.
Up came the fifth pot – one final gallon of four spots.
Needless to say, I am a bit perplexed. Is it possible that the manner in which I set the pots resulted in every other pot getting tangled and coming up completely empty? Is it more likely that while I was sipping a beer and taking in the views, some other mariner went to the trouble to pull my entire set, empty pots two and four, and then reset it? Would they not have had to do it in the a.m., since the pots were totally empty when I retrieved them? I am baffled.
Who can help me solve the Mystery of the Vanishing Crustaceans?