‘Hit-or-miss’ open to crab season

  • By Wayne Kruse Special to The Herald
  • Wednesday, July 3, 2013 10:11pm
  • Sports

The first installment of what’s expected to be an estimated 230,000 recreational crabbers dropped their pots in Puget Sound on Monday and found crab populations roughly equal to last year.

“Probably very comparable to the 2012 opener,” said Don Velasquez, state Fish and Wildlife Department biologist at the agency’s Mill Creek office, “but not up to the banner 2011 numbers.”

Velasquez said state personnel working the Redondo/Armeni (West Seattle)/Mukilteo, Everett/Maple Grove/Utsalady shoreline tallied an average of 4.4 crab per person Monday — close to limits around.

Velasquez said recreationists expressed considerable displeasure over the fact that tribal commercial crabbers were allowed to fill their quotas before the sport season opened. There were reports, for instance, that Holmes Harbor — a popular and productive crabbing area — was hit particularly hard by tribal fishers.

“It’s no secret that the tribes took a lot of crab,” Velasquez said, “but you have to remember that over a quarter-million sport fishermen on the water can catch up quickly and that we, ultimately, have to plan for a 50-50 split.”

The tribal fishery is a fact of life and the way to beat it is to move around until you find a spot the commercial traps missed.

“It was a hit-or-miss opener, and the key was to find a fresh spot,” said Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood. “Some guys did very well, some didn’t, and it was the ones who moved until they found a good crab population that did the best. Don’t beat your head against the wall. If you haven’t found anything in an hour, try somewhere else.”

He said one of his customers tried Howarth Park, Clinton, Columbia Beach and the Everett Jetty, finding only a crab or two, until the party finally hit a honey hole.

He said the better crabbing seemed to be a little deeper than usual, with best results coming from 80 to 130 or 140 feet. Try cheap chicken or turkey parts, he said, or salmon heads/carcasses. Clams make outstanding bait, widely used by commercial crabbers, so save the innards when cleaning your razor clams.

Velasquez said compliance with crab regulations “looked pretty good” on the opener, and that one enforcement official mentioned seeing “better compliance in the Everett area.” Keeping undersized crab and failing to immediately enter crab on the report card were still the top two problems.

Monday was a one-day opener for all of Puget Sound except for Marine Area 7, the San Juan Islands. The season was closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and reopened today on the regular Thursday-through-Monday schedule. The southern islands open July 15, and the northern portion on Aug. 15. Most areas will close the evening of Sept. 2 for a catch assessment, but Area 7 will remain open through Sept. 30.

The state’s enforcement program encourages citizens witnessing a fish and wildlife offense to report the violation. Call 1-877-933-9847, send an e-mail to reportpoaching@dfw.wa.gov, or text 847411 (Tip411). The text message must begin with the letters “WDFWTIP” followed by a space, and then a brief description of the violation and location.

Speed crabbing

There have been some changes in the contact information for the initial run of Eddie Adams’ Puget Sound Speed Crabbing Derby, on July 20, based at the Port of Everett Marina. The website is www.speedcrabbing.com; e-mail ask@speedcrabbing.com or use the contact form on the website. The YouTube link to watch the speed crabbing video is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYdby0wwuX8.

Crab/chinook combo

Kevin John at Holiday Sports in Burlington said a good combo trip right now — with San Juan Islands chinook open but crabbing still closed — would be to soak your pots off West Beach (just outside Deception Pass), then run up and fish inside Rosario Strait. The first few weeks of July are usually very good, John said, inside at spots such as Eagle Bluff, Obstruction Pass, Point Lawrence and Thatcher Pass.

Try flasher/squid or UV flasher/herring or anchovy in a helmet.

Feed hummingbirds?

Hummers are probably the most loved and frequently fed birds in the avian world, says Douglas Everett of Tucson, Ariz., but they want better than refined white table sugar. Everett claims to have used university research to formulate a blend of plant sugars that most closely replicates nectar in the birds’ natural world — a proprietary blend of sucrose, d-glucose and d-fructose — without adding preservatives, stabilizers, enhancers, or coloring.

For more information, go to www.hummingbirdmarket.com; e-mail douglas@hummingbirdmarket.com; or phone 520-638-6492.

Topwater bass

Hot weather and lower water levels spell topwater time for bass fishermen on Potholes Reservoir. Mike Meseberg, owner of MarDon Resort, said participants in the resort’s bass tournament this year scored well with floating stick baits such as floating Rapalas, Devil’s Horsek and even buzz baits.

“With the advent of mid-90-degree temperatures, tie on a buzz bait and enjoy what our retired premier bass guide, Skip Davis, called ‘cardiac fishing,’” Meseberg said. “There are a lot of ways to catch bass, but my favorite remains cardiac fishing with a buzz bait.”

For more information, call the MarDon tackle shop at 509-346-2651, or check out “Fresh News” at mardonresort.com.

For more outdoors news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

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