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When does crab season start?

burntcream Oct 26, 2007 06:45 PM

Is there supposed to be a good harvest this year?

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  1. m
    ML8000 RE: burntcream Oct 26, 2007 07:15 PM

    Usually a little before Thanksgiving. Hard to say if it'll be good or not. When the season opens there's usually news from the dept of Fish and Game and the commercial fishermen (about the whole sale price, etc) and if it looks good.

    1. Sushi Monster RE: burntcream Oct 26, 2007 10:32 PM

      Historically, the median date has been about Nov. 15. I don't believe DFG calls it for the commercial side. The Pacific Fisheries Council -- http://www.pcouncil.org/ -- should be announcing something pretty soon.

      This year, just for once, I'm going to Princeton Harbor with a big ice chest and a big wallet. And coming home to a big pot of boiling water. Not to say that there's anything wrong with getting them from R99. But just once I'll go the full nine yards to celebrate the opener.

      Sushi Monster

      31 Replies
      1. re: Sushi Monster
        Shane Greenwood RE: Sushi Monster Oct 27, 2007 01:48 PM

        I already saw several trucks carrying crab pots loading up the boats last week. They are definitely getting ready. Should just be 2-3 weeks from now.

        1. re: Sushi Monster
          chemchef RE: Sushi Monster Oct 27, 2007 02:53 PM

          Where's Princeton Harbor???

          1. re: chemchef
            K K RE: chemchef Oct 27, 2007 02:59 PM

            Take 92 W till you end up in Half Moon Bay, right on Highway 1. Drive about 10 mins and the pier will be on your left, past a parking lot and complex where Princeton Seafood restaurant is (with their own slightly ovepriced fish shop in the back, but a great resource if you want to pay a nominal fee, like $5, to descale and filet a whole 20 lb fish from the docks).

            1. re: K K
              mofo313 RE: K K Oct 29, 2007 01:43 PM

              When can you start going there for crab and what's the best time of day to go?

              1. re: mofo313
                baron45 RE: mofo313 Oct 29, 2007 02:49 PM

                The sport Dungeness crab season opens on November 3rd so you can hop on a party boat and get your limit of 6 per person. But the commercial season likely starts 2 weeks later (if the crabbers get their desired price and don't go on strike).

                1. re: mofo313
                  uvahustla RE: mofo313 Nov 12, 2007 11:53 AM

                  When does Crab Season end?

                  1. re: uvahustla
                    baron45 RE: uvahustla Nov 12, 2007 01:00 PM

                    In our area, the DFG says the Dungeness sportsfishing season ends on Monday June 30, 2008. However, the commercial boats take so many crabs when their season starts that there's hardly any left by January.

            2. re: Sushi Monster
              Benny Choi RE: Sushi Monster Oct 29, 2007 06:33 PM

              I've posted this before, the one time I brought an ice chest, the crabbers told me that ice might kill the live crabs, so if you're going to keep them alive for cooking later the same day, don't use ice in your ice chest. I've found the ice chest with wheels and a high handle, like airport luggage, works quite nice when buying directly from the boats at Princeton Harbor.

              When you buy larger quantities, often the crabbers will toss in an extra crab or two for free, usually smaller ones they can't easily sell. Once, one crabber gave us so many free crabs with the ones we wanted that we literally could not finish them all at our crab party.

              1. re: Benny Choi
                mofo313 RE: Benny Choi Oct 30, 2007 12:15 PM

                So basically I go to this pier with a cooler in mid november and I can fill it up right off the boats? Are their prices similar to what you'd find in stores ($6-$8/lb)?

                1. re: mofo313
                  Ruth Lafler RE: mofo313 Oct 30, 2007 02:51 PM

                  In the past, prices have been in the $4/lb range for live (not cooked or cleaned) crab. More expensive than the rock-bottom prices you often see in Chinatown during the peak of the season, but you're supporting local fisherman and getting it as fresh as can be.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Xiao Yang RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 30, 2007 03:31 PM

                    The poster will be supporting local (Half Moon Bay) fishermen. Who do you think think the Chinatown crabs come from, if not local (San Francisco) fishermen? They are dropped off just after daybreak by pickup trucks coming directly from the Wharf. It'll be the same elapsed time between when they come out of the water and when they are put on the dinner table.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang
                      Melanie Wong RE: Xiao Yang Oct 30, 2007 03:35 PM

                      Actually the crabs in Chinatown come from a variety of sources, not all local, depending on the time of year. The trucks from the wharf are often the wholesalers.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                        Ruth Lafler RE: Xiao Yang Oct 30, 2007 04:46 PM

                        In addition to what Melanie said, you're supporting the fisherman when you buy retail from them, instead of paying a retailer, who bought it from a wholesaler/distributor, who paid the fisherman half (or less -- historically it's been under $2/lb.) the retail price.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          Benny Choi RE: Ruth Lafler Oct 31, 2007 06:00 PM

                          In addition to directly supporting the fishermen, it's just a cool experience, especially with out of town guests in tow, to walk right up to a boat and buy direct from the guys who clearly worked very hard to bring in the crabs themselves. $4/lbs cash, with the possibility an extra crab or two when buying a larger quantity, is totally worth it.

                          1. re: Benny Choi
                            Xiao Yang RE: Benny Choi Oct 31, 2007 07:22 PM

                            I'm way past being cool, and on a fixed income can't afford to treat the marketplace as a charity. From what I've heard, when you buy directly from the boats you end up paying MORE than the going retail price fot the privilege (not to mention burning gas to get there).

                            1. re: Xiao Yang
                              SteveG RE: Xiao Yang Nov 1, 2007 11:54 AM

                              Well, if you're Chinese and you can communicate well enough to be sure you aren't getting yesterday's starved crabs or worse, then you'll do fine. If you're a white potato like me, sometimes you get good crab and sometimes you don't; the boats are a more reliable bet for me.

                              1. re: Xiao Yang
                                Ruth Lafler RE: Xiao Yang Nov 5, 2007 12:50 PM

                                Some people spend money on local crab, some people spend money on trips to Shanghai. To each his/her own.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  Xiao Yang RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 5, 2007 07:19 PM

                                  Or one can go to Shanghai and spend money on local Shanghai (Dazha) crab (which also happens to be in high season right now).....

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang
                                    Ruth Lafler RE: Xiao Yang Nov 5, 2007 07:26 PM

                                    You would know!

                    2. re: Benny Choi
                      chemchef RE: Benny Choi Oct 30, 2007 01:02 PM

                      Ok, I'm looking at Google Maps, satellite view. Do we go to the boat docks or further up where it looks like there's an actual pier?

                      1. re: chemchef
                        baron45 RE: chemchef Oct 30, 2007 01:42 PM

                        You can go down directly to the boats on the dock. You will see the harbor master building on the right hand side and they have a board showing which boats have seafood for sale and which dock/berth they are located.

                        1. re: baron45
                          Benny Choi RE: baron45 Oct 31, 2007 05:56 PM

                          When crab season gets started, you just follow the crowd - you'll see plenty of people going to and from the piers.

                          You can either buy directly from the boats or walk to the very end of the pier where there is one processor with huge bins of live crabs.

                          1. re: Benny Choi
                            mofo313 RE: Benny Choi Nov 1, 2007 04:36 PM

                            I'm assuming I could go on a weekend morning and pick some up without a problem? Are they going all day?

                            1. re: mofo313
                              SteveG RE: mofo313 Nov 2, 2007 12:20 PM

                              I think you can actually call the harbormaster to check rough availability; the number is in the link baron45 posted. Of course, don't waste their time if you're not positive you'll be headed down!

                              1. re: SteveG
                                Emily Hope RE: SteveG Nov 2, 2007 10:15 PM

                                You can also call the FishFone (it is on that website baron45 linked to, but on a different page) at 650-726-8724--they pre-record a message (at least on the weekends--not sure about during the week) saying what fish and crab types are available on the docks, so you don't have to waste anyone's time (except maybe your own, if there isn't any crab!).

                        2. re: chemchef
                          mofo313 RE: chemchef Nov 1, 2007 04:36 PM

                          could you put up the link for the map?

                          1. re: mofo313
                            baron45 RE: mofo313 Nov 2, 2007 08:30 AM


                            1. re: baron45
                              mofo313 RE: baron45 Nov 2, 2007 09:59 AM


                              1. re: baron45
                                Ruth Lafler RE: baron45 Nov 2, 2007 10:01 AM

                                That site has a great map! And here's a locator link: ... or maybe not!

                        3. re: Sushi Monster
                          chuckl RE: Sushi Monster Nov 3, 2007 04:50 PM

                          good call, Sushi Monster. I live in pacifica and drive down the coast as often as i can to Princeton when crabs are available. Early in the season is best and biggest. Also, you can buy salmon off the boats. And if you're feeling a bit peckish you could do a whole lot worse that the chowder and fish and chips at barbara's fish trap. You can get a pretty good brew across the street.

                          1. re: chuckl
                            mofo313 RE: chuckl Nov 5, 2007 11:38 AM

                            Thanks for the tips....really just wish the season was here already.

                            Here's a link to Princeton if anyone else is unfamiliar with it (I had no idea)


                        4. Eat_Nopal RE: burntcream Oct 30, 2007 01:10 PM

                          Any body know the deal with local crabs & mercury? Apparently the Bay Area is highly contaminated from gold rush era quicksilver among other modern industrial pollutants. Is crab one of those things that is too small / short life to be a concern?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Eat_Nopal
                            SteveG RE: Eat_Nopal Oct 30, 2007 01:20 PM

                            For dungeoness, the bay is protected as a breeding ground and even individuals can't take that species of crab from the bay. By the time they're an edible size in the ocean, I imagine they've molted out some of the contamination they may have gotten as wee baby crabs in the bay.

                            Crab isn't mercury free, but it's much better than lobster or tuna:

                            Fish Average Detected range (PPM)
                            Tuna (fresh or frozen) 0.32 ND-1.30
                            Lobster Northern (American) 0.31 0.05-1.31
                            Crab Dungeness 0.18 0.02-0.48


                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                              theSauce RE: Eat_Nopal Nov 7, 2007 02:22 PM

                              Most crabs are caught out side of the bay waters, some as far as Canada and Alaska. Crabs that are caught on the piers off of Berkeley or around Golden Gate bridge are the ones you want to stay away from.

                              1. re: theSauce
                                Ruth Lafler RE: theSauce Nov 7, 2007 03:14 PM

                                "Stay away" is right, especially since it's illegal not only to catch crabs in SF Bay but also to have crabs that were caught in SF Bay in your possession.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  Shane Greenwood RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 8, 2007 08:34 AM

                                  Yes "stay away"! Especially since the oil/fuel spill. Even if you're willing to chance it with the laws, you don't want to eat anything coming out of this water.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                    baron45 RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 8, 2007 09:09 AM

                                    It's not illegal to catch crabs in the bay; however, it is illegal to catch Dungeness crabs in the bay. From the DF&G website:

                                    All crabs of the genus Cancer except Dungeness crabs, but including: yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs, and slender crabs are open all year with a limit of 35 crabs. Minimum size is four inches measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part. No undersize crabs may be placed in any type of receiver, kept on the person or retained in any person's possession or under his direct control; all crabs shall be measured immediately and any undersize crabs shall be released immediately into the water.

                                    1. re: baron45
                                      Ruth Lafler RE: baron45 Nov 8, 2007 09:12 AM

                                      Good point. Although since other crabs don't have a season, when you're talking about crab season, you're talking about Dungeness.

                                      I still wouldn't eat them -- crabs are scavenging bottom feeders, and there are too many contaminents and other yucky stuff in the Bay for my liking.

                              2. a
                                Alan408 RE: burntcream Oct 31, 2007 08:03 AM

                                Is there supposed to be a good harvest this year?

                                No. Crabs often show up as bycatch in the trawl nets, so far this year, not many are showing up.

                                1. p
                                  Pancho Chang RE: burntcream Nov 5, 2007 02:31 PM

                                  Seconding Alan408's report, we soaked overnight on Saturday just off Pacifica and got a dozen crabs, way below the 2 dozen we got on opening day last year.



                                  1. l
                                    lanpergal RE: burntcream Nov 6, 2007 03:18 AM

                                    My boyfriends boat gets here this Friday! :) I think it starts the 13th this year.

                                    1. pikawicca RE: burntcream Nov 7, 2007 03:23 PM

                                      When I was a kid, the local crab season started in October. Has over-fishing pushed it back, or is something else going on?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                        Eat_Nopal RE: pikawicca Nov 8, 2007 09:51 AM

                                        Perhaps climate change. Cherish the experiences you've had. I have been reading Diana Kennedy's My Mexico... as well as various books describing Life in Mexico throughout the last 2 centuries... and its like reading a history of the effects of climate change (its estimated that Mexico has lost more than 90% of its trees & wild vegetation in the last 500 years... with a big chunk happening in the last 100 years). And while... I have a feeling that global warming is going to have its biggest effect in the sub-tropics... I wouldn't be surprised if California looks much different in 100 years... with much of Southern California becoming unliveable (no more need for Beat L.A. chants... huh?)

                                      2. Sushi Monster RE: burntcream Nov 8, 2007 08:33 AM

                                        This would seem to be, finally, the definitive date: SF Chron today reports the commercial crab opener will indeed be right on time, Thu. Nov. 15. That was in Stienstra's column this morning. Unclear if that's the first day the boats can go out or if they can drop traps Wed. I wouldn't go out to Princeton Thursday without making a call first.

                                        This is going to be a good year, if early reports from the sport season are an indicator. Can't wait. Of course, there could always be a replay of the showdown a couple years back between the boats and the wholesalers over the wholesale price. That didn't keep the large out-of-state boats from running here (while they wait for their own season to start up north) but it did keep most of the HMB fleet in the harbor for a while.

                                        Sushi Monster

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Sushi Monster
                                          mofo313 RE: Sushi Monster Nov 8, 2007 09:02 AM

                                          Link to Stienstra article...this will make you hungry


                                        2. s
                                          sarvey RE: burntcream Nov 8, 2007 09:06 AM

                                          See thread on SFBay oil spill and crabs, fish, flock, and fauna in Food Media and News Board.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sarvey
                                            rworange RE: sarvey Nov 8, 2007 10:51 AM

                                            Here's the link for anyone interested

                                            Well, Xiao Yang, I was wondering where you where. I'm a little slow on the uptake at times. Thought you were stranded on an iceberg in Greenland.

                                          2. s
                                            slew RE: burntcream Nov 8, 2007 01:39 PM

                                            Here is a fairly recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle...


                                            1. c
                                              chocolatetartguy RE: burntcream Nov 9, 2007 11:04 AM

                                              There was an interesting article Thursday on the Outdoors page of the Chronicle Sporting Green about crabbing and the prospects for this year.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                                baron45 RE: chocolatetartguy Nov 9, 2007 12:29 PM

                                                Here's one about how the oil spill will affect the crab season:


                                              2. a
                                                AKmac RE: burntcream Nov 9, 2007 03:39 PM

                                                The season is looking pretty bad this year. The commercial guys have been putting out test pots and getting almost nothing- not a good sign before the season has even started. The fish and game guys have also reported that test pots aren't looking good at all. Add in the oil spill and we could be looking at some seriously expensive and scarce crab.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: AKmac
                                                  baron45 RE: AKmac Nov 10, 2007 07:07 AM

                                                  I was on a party boat earlier this week (before the oil spill) and the captain had his crab pots in about 140' of water about 10 miles northwest of the GG Bridge. The pots were averging 5-7 crabs each with a couple of them with 15 +/-. They had their pots in shallower water opening weekend with poor results so they moved them to the deeper waters further out and scores improved. In any case, the crab tasted very good.

                                                2. n
                                                  Nina RE: burntcream Nov 10, 2007 02:04 PM

                                                  The Chronicle reports that crab season has been postponed indefinitely due to the oil spill.


                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Nina
                                                    baron45 RE: Nina Nov 10, 2007 02:42 PM

                                                    From what I understand, commercial crabbers can't vote to close anything with regards to sportsfishing. I guess they can vote, but it wouldn't make a difference. Sportsfishing is governed by the CA Dept of Fish & Game.

                                                    1. re: baron45
                                                      ML8000 RE: baron45 Nov 11, 2007 05:37 PM

                                                      Commercial crab fishermen can decline the wholesale price offered/negotiated by wholesale fish seller which effectively shuts down or delays any crab coming in. I have no idea how the price is set but I'm guessing by the respective associations.

                                                    2. re: Nina
                                                      nicedragonboy RE: Nina Nov 11, 2007 05:22 PM

                                                      aww man...I was so looking forward to post Thankgiving Crab.

                                                      1. re: nicedragonboy
                                                        mofo313 RE: nicedragonboy Nov 12, 2007 11:15 AM

                                                        Yeah that was a real letdown, hopefully it's not too long before they can get things up & running again.

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