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Aug 31, 2010 12:15 AM

So when DOES the local crab season start in 2010?

I've searched this board and Googled elsewhere but all I can find is that generally it starts in mid-November, and last year the first day was November 15.

I'm coming down for a business trip (so the dates aren't flexible) November 13 - 16. I live in Seattle so I don't lack for opportunities to eat good crab, but I have a crab-deprived friend (she lives in New Mexico, AND her partner is highly allergic to shellfish) meeting me there, and I promised her at least one great fresh crab dinner. Did I speak too soon? It's going to KILL me if we just miss it by a day or two.

If they haven't set the season dates yet, anybody know when they will?

And while I'm on the subject...based on recommendations here, I'm thinking PPQ Dungeness Island for a Vietnamese-style preparation, and maybe Nettieā€™s Crab Shack for a basic, messy, primal, dismember-it-yourself steamed-crab-with-drawn-butter-and-bibs feast. Any other suggestions or better ideas?

Thanks, y'all!

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  1. Crab season in subject to the condition of the crab. In October the DFG starts testing the crab, they look for 25% yield.

    During the summer crab molt (lose their shells), they regrow their shells and then "fill up their new shell". Growth rates depend on the environment, (water temps/food). Recreational season opens first, then commercial. First weekend in November for recreational harvest, commercial opens up two weeks later.

    San Francisco's crab season is the first opener on the west coast. Heading north up the coast, seasons open up later. This spacing continues up to Alaska. Conversely, SF's season closes first (June) and Alaska last (August).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      Good summary, Alan, but in practice it's a bit more complicated than that. Usually, for example, the availability of local crab is stalled for a few days because the fisherman are haggling over the price.

      Places like PPQ will have crab all year round from tanks. Even if you order it during crab season it won't necessarily be fresh-caught and/or local.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Regarding haggling over price, crabbers who sell to the big wholesalers may wait until they get a better price, but there are always out of the area boats who will "cross the line" and there are many commercial fishermen who do not sell to the big wholesalers. Based on my experience with commerical crabbing, the "haggling" is more of a media/news thing than what is actually happening.

        The out of the area boats come to the SF opener because it opens before their local opener. If they don't fish, they wasted several weeks time and thousands of dollars of fuel. The out of the area fishermen have their crab pots trucked to SF and pilot their boats down.

    2. While Alan is correct, they try to get the season open for Thanksgiving Crab. It's a sad year when we don't have fresh local crab for thanksgiving. Season runs through the winter.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bbulkow

        Yep. I can't remember a single thanksgiving where we didn't eat crab for lunch on Friday. Always bought from local suppliers.

      2. There are really three factors to consider: the date set by DFG to start the commercial season, the size of the local catch, and the haggling about wholesale price based upon financial considerations. The actual date on which local crab is available is governed by those factors. Just pray to St. Crabby and hope for the best.

        1. I had a great crab vendor who gave me this rule of thumb: "Crab season begins when the world series is over. Crab season ends when the baseball season begins." Not fully true but close enough.

          1. Thanks, y'all! That helps. I'll get my prayers and supplications going to St. Crabby, and pack my bib and cocktail fork!

            1 Reply
            1. re: MsMaryMc

              I've never been to Nettie's, but during the real crab season Woodhouse Fish Company does a great job sourcing local crab. One morning, we went when they opened around 11 AM. We had to wait for it, but soon enough a pickup truck pulled up outside, a food-grade garbage can full of fresh-caught crab got dragged into the kitchen, and then we each had a steaming crab in front of us within ten minutes. Sometimes it's hard to beat simple pleasures.

              If the real season isn't open yet, don't forget that you can go out on a charter boat with your friend and "fish" for crab. You'll come home with a half dozen crabs apiece, and eat so much of it that you'll wonder if you could possibly eat too much crab.

              Woodhouse Fish Company
              2073 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114