The just-past summer recreational crab season wasn’t one to remember, and the intuitive forecast for this winter season was for much of the same. Maybe not so.
“The guys are crackin’ crab,” says Tom Nelson, host of The Outdoor Line on ESPN Radio, who lives on the water and often, we suspect, in it.
Pretty good numbers of Dungeness around, he says, and some of the bigger ones. Eight-inch crab sound good?
Most of the usual places should produce, Nelson says: Mukilteo to the shipwreck, off the mouth of the Snohomish River, Skagit Bay, Utsalady, Rocky Point. No need to go deep in the winter. If you have 75 feet of line and fishing 50 feet of water you’re on point, but zip-tie a downrigger ball to the center of your traps to make sure they don’t drift.
Bait? Now’s the time to clean out your freezer, Nelson says. Salmon carcasses, leftover shrimp bait, Turkey legs. Since frozen bait takes a while to thaw, you need something to start that stinks quick.
“Buy a few cans of canned mackerel,” Nelson says, “then take an ice pick and punch ‘em full of holes.”
Drop your pots at different depths, let them soak for a couple of hours, and check to see whether that was the honey hole. If not, move on.
Remember you must record your catch immediately on a winter report card. And that you have until the end of the month to turn in your summer results and avoid the $10 penalty.