Oyster Planting Time

Galveston Bay oyster seeding

Last Thursday, when I was out on Galveston Bay checking oyster leases, I got the rare opportunity to watch a “seeding.” For a few days each year, Texas Parks & Wildlife oyster fishery experts encourage oyster lease holders to remove oysters from prohibited areas and reseed them on their leases. The prohibited areas are close to shore and polluted by run-off. Unless they are removed, the contaminated oysters are tempting targets for poachers who might sell them to unsuspecting buyers. This is as close to oyster farming as we get in Texas.

Some of the oysters from the undisturbed prohibited areas are huge lunkers. But the ones the oystermen like best are the little “seed” oysters that will grow to marketable size in 6 or 8 months. It only takes a few weeks in clean water for oysters to purify themselves. The nine oyster lugs that belong to Jeri’s Seafood in Smith Point probably transferred two hundred bags of oysters to clean water.

Smith Point Oysterman Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson and Tracy Woody from Jeri’s Seafood talked with Jim Gossen and I about the future of oyster marketing for much of the afternoon. Meanwhile, Ben’s brother Eddie made us a fried oyster lunch. There was also some shrimp jambalaya and fried redfish on the table, along with some homemade jalapeños and pickled garlic. It was quite a feast.

Since Ike closed the local businesses, the employee kitchen at Jeri’s Seafood is the only place serving lunch within 25 miles of Smith Point, so there are usually quite a few visitors. I met a a lawyer working on leases for a “green” CO2 pipeline and a cookbook collector who was staying at the Nelson’s Spoonville RV Park on the tip of Smith Point. If you are looking for a secluded spot with a view of the water and good fishing to park your RV, check it out.

Jim Gossen and Ben Nelson discussed the crab market and the high prices being paid for Texas crabs in Maryland. After we talked about barbecued crabs for a while, Eddie invited me to come back with my kids and go crabbing some afternoon. It’s high on my list.

2 thoughts on “Oyster Planting Time

  1. Pamela Price

    This is fascinating. My mother’s family is from the Pearland area and she grew up vacationing along the Texas coast, esp. Galveston and Rockport. Curiously few of us are oyster fans, so until I read your book, I was clueless about this part of coastal life. Thank you for your stories.

  2. robert

    I love the “oyster the size of a beer can” pic! That’s a unit of measure I can get behind.

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