Fishermen and officials are predicting a good Dungeness crab season based on previous years despite a slow start to the season for sport fishers Saturday.
Recreational crab fishers set traps on the season’s first day and commercial fishers gauged the local productivity and continued to prepare for their season with a later opening date.
“I think it’s going to be a good year,” said Jim Rubin, who runs a sport fishing charter boat. “There’s been a lot of crab the last few years. There’s lots of bait for the crabs — anchovies.”
Rubin also uses sardines and squid to bait the traps, which he set near Davenport at depths of up to 200 feet. He said he expects about 30 crabs. In one hour, he caught eight crabs; however, that catch is not a good indicator for predicting the season said Greg Hill of Bay Side Marine, which provides local fishing reports.
“Today was kind of slow because of wind, and it’s a little early to tell,” Hill said. “People set their pots then fished, or they left and will check them tomorrow. Sport fishers used to be able to set their pots the night before the opener. You normally want a 24-hour soak.”
Crabbers were not allowed to set their traps and nets before 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
However, Hill said the fact that last year commercial fishers caught crabs that were too short to keep and too soft or young indicates that this season should be good.
Dungeness crabs do well in northern and central California’s cooler waters and are typically found on sandy or sand-mud bottoms at about 300 feet, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hill said commercial fishers’ range is from Moss Landing to the Farallon Islands.