Sunday, July 17, 2011


I've been on the West Coast for about five years now and while I've eaten a crab or three, I'd never given much thought to catching them until the other day when I took an out of town friends to Crissy Field in San Francisco. We were out of the fishing pier getting a look at the Golden Gate and happened on some people having a great time crab fishing.

Essentially, most crabbers simply bait a trap, a net with hoops in many cases, with chicken and then wait a while to give the tasty crustaceans time to crawl in. Then you haul up the trap and hopefully have a keeper or two. Some species are restricted and there is a size limit, not unlike that for fish. You simply toss them into a bucket, re-bait and go for more.

So, I thought I'd give it a go at some point and last weekend bought an inexpensive crab trap, $6 plus some line I already had to get it into the water. It was a compact folding trap that would fit in my backpack, not a bad idea in general and a bonus for me as I'm usually in crabbing spots while I'm out on the motorcycle.

Note that California has the laws structured so that you can fish and crab from public piers without a license. It's something like $50 a year to get one but free is nice. I'm not sure what piers are public other than a handful in San Francisco and the one I've seen in Berkeley but their seem to be plenty and if I end up liking going after crabs I'll spring for the permit. I met one sailor that keeps a couple small crab pots on his boat and drops them over the side right at his slip.

Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, catch some crabs and cook them up right on your boat. Though, in my case, I didn't have a boat and things didn't go quite as planned. I'd had a lovely idea that I'd take my trap, a little all in one grill kit and some bait and just spend the afternoon. I'd gotten the trap out, baited it and cast it into the water one time and it went down never to return. That was a total bummer on my day and the end of my first crab outing.

Not the end of the world, I had a fun talk with a couple of far more successful crabbers and then headed out to find new gear. As luck would have it I didn't find new but was given an old trap. As you might note in the photo, it's in need of a little help. I figured I'd give it a go. Worst case is that I have to forgo repairing the net and replace it for $15. Being as the trap itself costs more than that I'll be ahead either way and have learned something in the offing.

I'll post about the repair and hopefully successful second trip to the pier.

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