Crab season opened with full traps from Bodega Bay to Monterey. The season for sport crabbers started out great, and anglers were surprised to find market squid and Humboldt squid close to shore.
On Nov. 3, as the annual Dungeness season started, anglers steamed into port with limits of crabs and pots of boiling water ready to start the feast.
It has become an annual tradition at many ports to have groups of crabbers camp out overnight to bring in the crab season and festivities. Half Moon Bay may have the largest such congregation. The campers start to line the harbor parking lot Friday before the season starts. By midday Saturday, spots are full and billows of steam rise from the crowd as many crabs are cooked.
The crab scores were steady up and down the coast. Monterey had 15 crabs per trap, while ports to the north provided scores of as many as 25 crabs per trap. The catch seemed to be healthy stocks of hard-shelled male Dungeness crabs and a medium-large grade.
The commercial season was set to start in this area Wednesday, Nov. 14, so consumers may buy fresh crabs off the docks or at market as long as there are no strikes set by commercial fishermen.
As crab fishermen steamed back to port outside Moss Landing, they were greeted by flocks of birds diving on market squid. Just beneath the market squid were 5-pound Humboldt squid chasing their smaller brethren to feast upon them.
There is something wicked about these red devil squid, and that fact that they eat smaller squid confirms they are creepy.
Humboldt squid make great crab bait and have been very abundant along the south end of Monterey Bay and in Carmel bay. They are easier to catch when they are on the surface, compared with reeling them up from 1,200 feet deep.
Squid jigs work well, and small metal jigs caught the large squid. If treated correctly, these smaller 5-pound squid are actually good to eat and work great for bait.
I hope people have a chance to go crabbing or buy some crab for a delicious holiday feast.
- Mike Baxter has fished in the Monterey Bay Area since he was a boy and has been a licensed charter boat captain for more than 20 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.