By Jacob Cheek
It only comes once a year. Dec. 1 is the beginning of the dungeness crab season. Fishermen wait for this with anticipation. Fishermen are excited in Humboldt County for open season on dungeness crab. The fishermen here in Humboldt County thrive off the crab season especially since the North Coast is such a prime location to fish for crab.
Jeffrey Russell is a 20-year-old fisheries major at HSU. Russell fishes commercially and recreationally for crab every year.
“Fishing for crab is exciting because the dungeness crab has a unique delicious taste,” Russell said. “I get excited when this time of year comes around because it is a change from salmon fishing throughout the year. It is such a different process for catching crab so it makes it a lot more interesting.”
Russell also worked commercially when it comes to catching dungeness crab.
“When I’m commercial crab fishing I get more excited than when I crab fish recreationally because the catch is a whole lot bigger,” Russell said.
Since the North Coast is such a popular fishing spot for catching crab there may not be much crab to go around for these fishermen.
“It can get extremely competitive out on the water,” Russell said. “You’re not always guaranteed a full load of crab when you go out because this season there is a shortage in Dungeness Crab.”
Whoever has the best bait typically catches the most crab.
Erich Coulter, a 20-year-old forestry major, has experienced the highs and lows of crab fishing.
“Fish heads and chicken are the best baits to use,” Coulter said. “When I use those baits I typically catch more but when I use other baits I come up short in the amount I’m trying to catch.”
Dungeness crab fishing is commercially big in Humboldt but many go out and fish for crab for fun and food.
“I sometimes like to go out there and catch crab because it puts food on the table,” Coulter said. “I’ll go out and catch seven to ten crabs and that will feed me for a few days.”
Roasain Murzatti, a 20-year-old wildlife major, just loves what it takes to catch the crab.
“The whole process of putting the pots together is what really excites me,” Murzatti said. “You never know what is going to be at the end of that rope when you pull the pot up. It could be nothing or it could be the catch of the day.”
For some, this is the first year out on the water fishing for crab.
Skip Gleason, the women’s assistant basketball coach here at HSU, just started fishing for crab this year.
“I purchased an ocean kayak just this past spring specifically for crabbing,” Gleason said. “It’s open and wide which helps me carry all my stuff.”
Gleason uses a Danielson style crab box which most crab fishermen use.
“With my bigger kayak it makes it a lot easier to pull out my traps from the water when I go pick them up,” Gleason said.
For Gleason this is a new experience.
“I’m embracing Humboldt County and Trinidad Bay,” Gleason said. “I’ve been eating crab for a long time but it’s great to be able to catch my own and cook it myself.”