Popular Dungeness crab season opens
It’s a fishery well anticipated by a great many anglers – crab, a crustacean made even more popular by the TV series “Deadliest Catch.”
California anglers don’t have to fight the often-fearsome conditions of the Bering Sea. Party boats going out for limits of rock cod will set out crab pots. Once fishing is concluded, the boat will swing by and pick up the pots, dumping out crab, rebaiting the pots and putting them down.
When the hydraulics begin the process of lifting the pots, anglers commonly mass around the deckhand handling the gear to see the pots rise to the surface, to see the crabs. There are ooohs and aaaahs when anglers see the pots surface with the crabs trapped inside.
Oftentimes, especially early in the season, anglers are rewarded with limits of rock cod and Dungeness crab.
The location of the port determines the limit. The daily bag limit is 10 unless you’re on a party boat south of Mendocino County, where the limit is six. The minimum size limit for crab is 5¾ inches, except for anglers on party boats, where the minimum is six inches.
The Department of Fish and Game conducted a first-ever study, and data showed more than 350,000 crabs taken by sport crabbers last year. The majority was caught in November and December.
And while crab populations are cyclical, the great news is that the DFG reports crab numbers appear to be on an upswing.
Some of the best crabbing is found before the commercial season opens, and there is competition from the large number of pots set out by commercial boats. That season isn’t open, so you have the chance to get into a dynamite fishery with access to the most and largest crab available.
Port of Sacramento: Access no longer is easy. The south shore side has been fenced off, but anglers still find a way to get to the levee and fish the port and channel. Some will go further west, where there are launches, and boat up to the bass fishery. If you get a boat onto the port, know you’re not allowed within 150 feet of the docks.
The Lake Washington Outboard Club held its annual striped bass derby last Saturday. Many bass were checked in, but there were no lunkers. The biggest was a 10.8-pounder, and the majority was cookie-cutter size – from 2½ to five pounds.
Those trolling, jigging and drifting jumbo minnows were accounting for fish, but minnows held a lead in attracting and catching. One boat with three anglers reported going through nine minnows in a short time, which only accounted for two keepers.
Suisun Bay: The mothball fleet is a short run from the boat ramp at Martinez. And, early indications are the sturgeon fishery this year is going to be great. There are several shakers being caught and having to be released and are readily grabbing shrimp baits, eel and pile worms. Roe also should be a top attractor. There are a big number of bass roaming the waters, and soaking a bullhead should get you bit. Many bass in the teens and some 20-pounders are on the prowl, too.
Bodega Bay: Ocean waters got crowded for the crab opener with a good 300 boats. The good news, everybody who brought up the pots were rewarded with limits. Besides the crab, party boats will be running for the big Humboldt squid.
New Melones: The winter trout fishery is always great and shaping up to be no different this year. To help, the Department of Fish and Game added a plant. Glory Hole is the closest area along with its boat ramp. Don’t troll deeper than 15 feet to find limits. Action is picking up for those limited to being on shore with the usual offerings of eggs, crawlers and Power Bait.
Ice House Reservoir: No storms are in the near future, and the roads are open. Expect it to be nippy in the early morning, so dress in layers. The dock at the launch ramp has been pulled out, so you’ll have to rough it when launching. But going is worth it. Fish aren’t that big, perhaps to 12 inches, but they’re plentiful. Haul a J-5, J-7 or thread on a brown or green Grub, and stay in the top 15 feet of water. There will be times you can’t seem to beat off the trout.
Folsom Lake: The bass and salmon/trout bite appears to be picking up. In a day’s worth of fishing, you’ll get bit but limits are rare. You’ll find bass in 10-30 feet of water, and those that were caught took jigs, spoons and even cranks. Troll the deeper water, from 35-50 feet, in and around the river channel at Brown’s Ravine or in front of the dam. A threaded-crawler behind blades should get you bit. Watch your scope and adjust your depth as you find fish.
George deVilbiss can be reached at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.