Getting Ready For The Upcoming Crab Season
Written By: Steve ‘Hippo’ Lau, October 24, 2013 Species: Crabs,
When I see Halloween decorations being put up for sale, I get that special feeling inside me ... not the feeling of fear, or doom, or dread usually associated with the holiday, but the feeling of excitement knowing that crab season will soon be upon us!
Yes, big, beautiful Dungeness Crabs will soon be legal again to catch. I am not fond of eating crab, by the way, but I sure do like catching them. As a matter of fact, I like cooking them, too. And oddly enough, I find great satisfaction in picking crab meat out of their shells. I just don't like eating them (although others in my family love to eat crab!).
For years, I caught crabs in the traditional manner, using crab rings off of a handy pier. Of course, the problem with that is that for a long time, decades actually, catching Dungies in the San Francisco Bay has been illegal.
I have wondered why the Fish and Game (as they were known back then) hasn't come up with something "consumer friendly" like a lower limit for crabbing in the bay (something like three a day instead of ten) for the benefit of poor people. Oh, well, like I have always said, if the F&G was a business, it would be out of business.
(Note: Now, don't be sending me nasty notes about how the bay is a nursery for the Dungies and that we need to protect them and blah blah blah ... We catch all sorts of fish and other critters during the spawning period and such and two or three crabs per person from the very limited areas you can catch them in the bay is not going to overtly impact the species especially when tons of crabs are caught every year.)
Crab rings are almost passé now since the development of the modern castable crab snare. Since being able to cast a snare greatly enlarges the area you can catch crabs versus the crab ring, crab snaring has really caught on as a way to catch crabs. Because casting for crabs seems like such a less technical way of fishing compared to catching fish, not a lot of thought goes into rods and reels and assorted tackle associated with snaring crabs. This is a big mistake.
Just "any ol' rod and reel" won't do if you want to crab seriously. Crabbing takes a bigger toll, physically, on your tackle than any kind of fishing done in the bay area save for wire line trolling for stripers and halibut. Fish, by their very nature, swim.
All your tackle has to do is hold on to the fish until it is tired enough to swim in your direction and you simple crank in the line. Crabs, on the other hand, don't swim. Once you lasso one of these cranky critters you have to keep relentless pressure on it. If you stop retrieving your line, that may be pause enough for the lassoes to open up and your prize slips away.
Dragging a cantankerous crab across the bottom as it digs its claws into the ground is no easy task. It is doing nothing to help you bring it in, and everything it can to make it hard on you. This equals wear and tear on your tackle.
NEXT TIME AROUND: We'll talk about the proper tackle for serious crab snaring. Until then, brush up on your crab recipes!