Unusual crab derby coming up in July

I’ve been around the Northwest outdoor communications game for a long time, and I thought I’d pretty much seen it all, quite a while ago.

Turns out I hadn’t, and I’ll bet you hadn’t either.

But we have now, with the announcement of the “World Premier, First Annual Puget Sound Speed-Crabbing Derby!”

If that sounds a little funky and off the wall, it is. Sort of.

The event is the brainchild of Eddie Adams, a Kenmore resident and freelance TV producer, who sees recreational crabbing as almost a religion. He has designed a legitimate derby (prizes include a trap puller, a weekend vacation, outdoor crab cooking package, Protoco crab traps and more), but intends to try to keep it low-key and fun rather than uber-competitive. The reason for the event, Adams said, is to publicize the recreational aspects of crabbing hereabouts and to get more families interested in participating.

“The core of the derby is about having fun with friends and family, and not getting too serious about it,” he said.

The basics: Derby day is July 20, with check-in from 6:30 to 7:45 a.m. at the Port of Everett Marina. The derby starts at 8 a.m. Enter (free) as a team of 2-4 persons. Go crabbing derby morning, working quickly but looking for those nice, heavy 7- or 7 1/2-inch crabs. Get a limit of big critters back to the weigh station (at J-dock and the boat ramp) early enough and receive a “time bonus.”

Prizes are awarded for the heaviest two-person limits (10 crabs), and the single largest crab of the derby by an individual. No night-before soaking allowed, and they have ways to check on that.

Adams has a tip for participants (and there are folks signing up already): Go for the big crab rather than the time bonus. Check out your spots ahead of the derby and go for the areas with the more mature individuals. “The time bonus is worth roughly the weight of one crab,” he said.

The event has been cleared with the state Fish and Wildlife Department, and remember — it costs nothing to enter.

For more information, visit www.speedcrabbing.com, e-mail Adams at eddie@speedcrabbing.com, or watch the “How to Speed-Crab” video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYdby0wwuX8.

Recreational crab opener

Most of the Sound, except for the San Juan Islands, opens to recreational crabbing Monday, and it sounds like a repeat of 2012.

“Out test fishing indicates that crabbing in areas 8-1 and 8-2 will be very similar to last year, and not like the gangbusters season of 2011,” said Don Velasquez, a biologist and crab manager for the state in the north Sound. “Hood Canal looks really strong this year, and Area 9 also has a good crab population. Tribal biologists have said their crabbers should have their target catch fulfilled by the time the recreational season opens, so there shouldn’t be gear conflicts.”

Velasquez said recreationists are generally getting better about following the rules, but that there are still a lot of citations being issued for failure to immediately record crab on a catch record card.

Mike Chamberlain at Ted’s Sport Center in Lynnwood said the whole shoreline from Everett to Seattle offers crabbing opportunities, except for the few areas of rocky habitat. South of Edmonds was good last year, he said, and other top spots would include Everett to Mukilteo; Picnic Point to Humpy Hollow; the inside shoreline of Camano Island; the south and northeast sides of Hat Island; Rocky Point/Utsalady; and Langley/Columbia Beach.

Unusual catch

A commercial gillnetter working the Gorge area of the Columbia, downstream from Bonneville Dam for summer chinook on June 17, landed a 52-pound striped bass. State biologist Joe Hymer in Vancouver said the big hen was carrying 10 pounds of eggs, but an empty stomach when examined.

Stripers are native to Chesapeake Bay and other East Coast waters, but were also established in the Sacramento River in the 1800s. A river or two in southern Oregon have small runs, and the fish occasionally stray into the Columbia.

“It happens from time to time,” Hymer said, “but this was an exceptionally large fish.”

Kids trout pond

There will be a free kids’ trout pond from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Three Rivers Marine (limit one trout per child), plus hot dogs and drinks. Phone number 425-415-1575; address 24300 Woodinville-Snohomish Road, a block and a half south of Costco.

Crappie

Good crappie fishing is hard to find, particularly for those big, plate-sized fish that are such great table fare. If that rings your bell, you might head for Potholes Reservoir where, according to MarDon Resort owner Mike Meseberg, crappie and other panfish are coming back big time. Meseberg sent a photo of Devon Gonzalez of Moses Lake holding a couple of these beautiful fish — two of the 32 his group caught and released from the MarDon dock during their day-long fishing trip. See the photo at my blog.

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

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