ANNAPOLIS – In his bright yellow motorized kayak, Langston Majette glided across the waters beneath the Naval Academy Bridge in Annapolis.
Wire net in hand, his well-trained eyes scanned the murky Severn River.
The shadow of a Maryland blue crab materialized a few feet below the surface, and Majette readied his net.
In one swift motion of pure muscle memory, Majette scooped the crab out of the water and into the bushel basket resting on the bow of his kayak.
“Gotcha!” he said. “Now I just need to catch his cousins.”
Majette’s “sit-on-top” style kayak is outfitted with a lithium ion battery-powered trolling motor that can be steered using foot pedals.
A propstick that Majette constructed using PVC pipe jets out a few feet on the right side of the kayak, allowing him to use a trotline to catch crabs.
Trotlining is a well-known crabbing method that uses a long baited rope to lure crabs to the water’s surface so that they can be scooped up with a net.
The method may be well known, but executing it with a kayak is not—a fact that gets Majette a lot of notice for his hobby.
Since 2006, Majette’s 168 YouTube videos have earned him over 117,000 views so far.
From time to time, his virtual celebrity gets him recognized in the real world.
“Let’s be honest, people recognize a black guy in a yellow kayak. They know me from YouTube!” Majette said.
“People will come up to me and they know my name and what I did three weeks ago. Sometimes it’s creepy, but it’s flattering,”
In summer 2014, Maryland Loves Crabs, an annual magazine dedicated to crabbing in the state, asked Majette to write a guest article about his experience.
“Langston’s article in [the magazine] received many — and a variety — of comments from readers and advertisers,” said Allan Ellis, publisher of Maryland Loves Crabs.
“Some thought he was a brave guy, others wondered about his sanity!”
Majette would be the first to admit that crabbing from a kayak isn’t the most traditional method, but for him, it’s the most practical one.
“I can load the kayak on the roof of my Jeep by myself, I can launch from more places, and I don’t have to pay for gasoline,” said Majette. “On a good day I can catch a whole bushel of crab in a few hours.”
A successful day on the water will mean crabs for dinner at home with his family that night. He lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, with his wife and young daughter.
Majette also loves to cook, and one of his favorite recipes to make (when he has fished and crabbed while out on the water) is freshly caught, broiled rockfish stuffed with crabmeat, he said.
The kayak fishing and crabbing scene
Majette isn’t the only one enjoying the practical benefits of kayak fishing.
Matt Baden, also a kayak fisher and crabber, is a shift manager at the Alltackle fishing-gear shop in Annapolis.
Baden knows Majette through the kayak-fishing internet forum called Snaggedline, an online community of over 2,300 kayakers in the mid-Atlantic.
When he began kayak crabbing in 2011, it was on this and other similar forums where Majette would read old threads and look at pictures to figure out the best way to rig his kayak for trotlining.
“Langston has his kayak crabbing down to a T,” said Baden. “He was one of the first people I knew of to start doing it in this area.”
Although Baden was already well versed in the sport of kayak fishing, he consulted with Langston when he decided to try crabbing.
One of Majette’s best ideas was to use 5-gallon buckets to store his trotline and anchors on the kayak. The buckets double as floats for the line once it has been deployed into the water, he said.
When you are crabbing from a small kayak, every bit of space counts.
Majette’s artful setup (including two cameras rigged to record him in action) and efficient method for managing the trotline makes kayak crabbing look easy.
Master of air and sea
As comfortable as Majette is in the water, he is equally at ease in the air.
“Master of the air. Master of the sea—self-proclaimed of course,” Majette said, half laughing.
While his early childhood was spent in Brooklyn, New York, his father moved Majette, his mother and two brothers to Maryland in 1994 because he wanted a change of scene and a different environment to raise his family.
Growing up, Majette always liked earth sciences, but he found his true passion after taking an intro-level geography class in college.
He began working at the College Park Airport at age 17 and got his pilot’s license at 20.
“I just loved the field of aviation. I still work at the airport part-time because I enjoy being in that environment,” Majette said.
He graduated from the University of Maryland in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in geography specializing in geographic information systems and computer cartography.
Shortly after graduating, he was offered a job as a cartographer for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Now 34 years old, Majette still works with the FAA producing aeronautical charts that pilots use for navigation as a supervisory aeronautical information specialist.
Whether for travel or for fun, he still flies often, using a small plane owned by a friend.
“When you’re up there, in control of the airplane, you don’t have any time to worry about your problems down on earth. You need to be focused on maintaining your safety and awareness in the plane,” said Majette.
“It’s a feeling of freedom. Every flight is like a new experience.”
Bringing it all together: The Flying Fisherman
While on a road trip with a friend, a producer in Los Angeles, Majette came up with an idea for a television show that would highlight his adventures in the air and sea.
“The Flying Fisherman” would document Majette flying his plane to a seaside destination, going fishing in that location, and then joining with a local chef to prepare the fresh catch.
Majette and his producer followed through with their idea in summer 2012, filming a pilot episode in Ocean City, Maryland, where Majette goes fishing for flounder on a chartered boat.
The pilot episode, funded by Majette and his friend, was published online last year.
The show has yet to be picked up by any networks, but Majette is still shopping it around, he said.
If Majette is disappointed by the lack of response to “The Flying Fisherman,” he doesn’t let it show.
“It was a huge sense of accomplishment. We had this vision, we turned it into a plan of action, we executed the plan, and then we had our final product,” he said.
Last fall, Majette began filming the second episode of “The Flying Fisherman,” in Florida.
For this episode, he is going crabbing.