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Going out crabbing in the ocean for Dungeness Crab

Posted by on December 29, 2011

In addition to the last post about vitamins and supplements, having an occasional meal of fish is a great idea as well. I’m a seafood guy so I’ll pretty much eat anything out of the ocean such as abalone, fish, lobster, and one of my favorites: crab, particularly Dungeness Crab, considered to be the best tasting crab species.  Well, instead of going out to the piers to buy crab, I decided that I would try my hand at reeling in crab traps to get some Dungeness Crab myself. Sure, it would be cheaper to buy them at the piers (or even at the grocery store) but I figure this would add some entertainment value and give some insight on how hard crab fishermen have to work in order to get crabs for the general public.

The ship charter I went with was the Hulicat owned by Captain Tom. He does rockfish and whale tours like the Queen of Hearts but adds on other stuff as well. What was interesting about this day was that I thought I was going only to find out that no one was on-board at all. I was wondering what was going on and after waiting around for awhile, I called the phone number and Captain Tom realized that he made an error. So instead of re-booking me, he offered to take me alone on a single crabbing trip which was basically a private charter that would have cost over $1000. I think he realized that by doing this trip for me, he would instead generate goodwill and have me spread the good news about him which would be the case.

Huli cat charter boat leaving the pier

Getting ready to leave to go catch crabs

So as a result, we took off and went off in the direction of some crab pots. Once out of the harbor, Tom gave me instructions on how the whole thing works. Basically, instead of watching the crew do the work, the clients, the passengers, are also part of the working crew and chipping in work such as putting the gaft in the water to get the buoy line, bring the line in, open up the cage, take the crabs out, re-bait, and throw the line and cage back in the water.

Putting the gaft down to get the buoy line

Putting the gaft down to get the buoy line

Reeling in the buoy line

Reeling in the buoy line which is connected to the crab trap/pot/cage.

Letting the hydraulic system reel in the line

Letting the hydraulic system reel in the line since it can be hundreds of feet down below.

Bringing in the crab trap in

Bringing in the crab trap in

It’s pretty simple but I realize if we did thousands of traps/cages, it can wear down a person which is what commercial fishermen basically do. I can already imagine how sick one of them gets after snatching crab after crab to be put out to the market.

Grabbing crabs out

Grabbing crabs out; don't get pinched pulling some of those feisty ones.

Measuring crab size

Gotta make sure that these crabs are of legal size. That's why there's a measuring device for them.


Once all the crabs out, time to re-bait the cage.

Throwing the cage back in

Throwing the cage back in

The great thing about all this is that the limit is 6 crabs per person so I was able to bring back home a good number of crabs for the dinner table. Can’t beat fresh crab from the ocean! Can’t beat getting the crabs myself!

Crabs in my cooler

I got 6 crabs in my cooler that's going to be dinner.