Conch Shell “Fishing”

Posted by MNAngler On August - 23 - 2009

I’m in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week for a family reunion. My wife was out walking the beach alone this morning when she met some people that found some really cool conch shells. She found out from them how they were catching them and then we started doing it.

Hurricane Bill, while several hundred miles South of us, was affecting the weather by producing some rain storms and stirring up the oceans with big waves (by my Midwestern standards). There were 8-10 ft swells a few hundred feet out that were causing big waves onto the beach.

Searching the surfThe conch shells were being swept up in these waves and if you watched closely, you could see them rolling in the water as the waves rolled back out into the sea. If you were fast enough, you could grab it before the next wave came in. The people my wife talked to had several nice conch shells that they recovered this way.

Having learned the technique, I decided to try my hand at it. I likened it to fishing. The scan of the waves was the cast, seeing a conch shell was the strike, and actually running to successfully grab it out of the water was the successful netting.

Conch shells from conch shell fishingWe learned of the technique in the late morning and I spent a few hours looking for shells. I was only able to grab two and they were a bit beat up by the activity in the ocean. I saw one really nice one rolling out, but was unable to get to it before the next wave hit.

After lunch, the whole family was out after shells as well. We spent hours out there not just looking for conch shells, but also finding other cool shells that were worn in neat ways by the ocean.

While I had spent hours looking for shells the way I was taught earlier in the day, my younger cousin walked down the beach and discovered an area that had shells just washing up on the beach. Using her method, I found two shells that still had hermit crabs in them!

I got a little sunburned while I was out today, so I might wait a few days to try again. I’m not sure if the surf will be wild enough to send the shells to the shore again, but it wouldn’t hurt to try!


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