So Many Crabs!

We look forward to the crabbing season to restock the freezer and enjoy delicious crab cakes throughout the year. In the first two trips of the season, we brought home over 12 pounds of crab meat! That likely isn’t enough to last the winter, so there will be more crabbing to come.

This year local crabbing in Elliott Bay is limited to two days per week, Sunday and Monday, which means the area is low on crabs. Further north the season is longer. Our first outing was to Port Gamble Bay, located adjacent to the Hood Canal Bridge, where crabbing is open the standard 5 days per week. Joining me on Fiddler were friends Thomas and Brent. Brent is from my home town and I have known him a long time.  He and his family are full time RVers and are spending some time near Mount St. Helens. Brent had not been crabbing before and I had not been to Port Gamble Bay before so it was indeed a gamble.

This year I added a new item to the arsenal, a crab “condo”.  This is a five gallon bucket with holes drilled in it that is hung overboard allowing the crabs to stay alive indefinitely.D609B697-9043-49A7-ACB3-5B138B20B4F5

As we approached the entrance to Port Gamble Bay, we had to work our way through many, many crab pots that were set out in Hood Canal. So that was a good omen. There were a few boats also anchored in the bay, but no crabbing was being done in the bay. Apparently all of the crabs are out in Hood Canal. So we dropped the pots out in Hood Canal like everybody else, and had pretty good luck with a mix of Dungeness and Red Rock crabs.

Crabbing is a long process that includes catching, cleaning, cooking, picking the meat out of the shell, and vacuum sealing it for the freezer. I brought an induction stove to see if that sped it up any, but it seemed to take about the same amount of time to boil the water and cook the crabs. It was nice to cook outside though.

We decided to drop a pot in the Port Gamble Bay and let it soak overnight. That yielded only one keeper, so after a discussion, we decided to relocate and focus our crabbing the next couple of days in Port Ludlow, a few miles to the northwest.

We anchored and set the pots at different depths just outside the entrance to Port Ludlow Bay. There were a lot of other pots too. Here we caught only Dungeness crabs, which have a lot more meat than Red Rock crabs and some people think it tastes a lot better too. I prefer the flavor of Dungeness crab meat.  As a bonus, we caught the largest crab I have ever caught, measuring over 8″.  We went back to Seattle with over 5 pounds of meat!

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The first crabbing trip of 2020 to Port Gamble and Port Ludlow

The crabbing season was opening in the San Juan Islands the next Thursday. I left the dock in Seattle on Tuesday morning and stopped almost eight hours later in Hunter Bay on Lopez Island. My son Evan and his girlfriend Jenna will be flying up on Friday to join me. Hunter Bay is very scenic and the morning fog made for some cool pictures.

After the fog lifted I moved to the northwest corner of the islands to Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. It is fairly protected from most weather and the forecast was windy. This is one of my favorite anchorages in the San Juan Islands.

As I was setting my anchor, two dinghies approached.  In them were friends from MBYC. They were not traveling together but, like me, find Reid Harbor a nice place. They invited me to a socially distanced happy hour. It was nice to see them since all of the Club’s events have been cancelled due to the Covid pandemic.

After happy hour we were treated to a very nice sunset.  Crabbing season opens in the morning and Reid Harbor is usually a good place to crab.893F6E72-5E2E-4A0A-B209-94FE172A4751

Over the course of the day I was able to catch, clean, cook, and shell a limit of crabs. Not a bad way to spend the day and put away another few pounds of meat.

The next day I moved to Deer Harbor. MBYC has an outstation there and nobody was on the dock, so I decided to tie up there. One the way I went by Battleship Island.  You can see why it is so named.

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Battleship Island

 

Evan and Jenna flew in on a sea plane later in the afternoon and I walked over to meet them. Evan and I have crabbed in Deer Harbor and had good luck in the past. Jenna has not crabbed before and was looking forward to the experience.

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Evan and Jenna landing in Deer Harbor

The three of us dinghied out to drop the traps, then Evan and Jenna took over the process. They had a lot of fun and ended up catching many crabs while the weekend went by in a blur. We all helped with cooking and shelling, using the big crab cooker since we were on a dock. It is way too hot to use on the boat.

The morning before Evan and Jenna left for Seattle, they caught another big batch. I’m pretty sure they had a great time. Unfortunately they had to leave and go back to work. I walked them back to their plane and off they went.

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Evan and Jenna on the plane to depart Deer Harbor

I stayed another night and cooked the day’s catch, then in the morning cruised to Port Ludlow for a night before going back to Seattle. Here is a map of the trip.CB354015-0BA0-4908-8D7F-141FCA13BC09_1_201_a

Crabbing is a great way to spend time on the water and I am looking forward to the next trip!

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