Charter boat captains and private boaters are still smiling and reiterating, “This is the year of the ‘D,’” referring to the prized and tasty Dungeness crab. “Best crab in years” and “best I’ve ever seen,” are the remarks from crabbers up and down the coast.
From Eureka south all the way to Monterey, one hears the same message. Even the boats working San Francisco Bay waters have found plenty of crabs for the passengers aboard.
One Ft. Bragg skipper even moved into shallow water at 55 feet and the results were remarkable. The pots filled within 30 minutes.
There are very few soft shellers, noted one deckhand. “In 16 pots we counted 150 crabs when the pots were pulled after a 30-minute drop,” he said.
The crabbing take has been so good that some captains are making two trips per day. Also popular right now are sanddab and crab combo trips. Usually, it’s “dabbing” first. Once everyone aboard has all the dabs they want … there is no limit … then they set the pots for the crabs.
What are sanddabs? They are a left-handed flatfish, about 7 inches long and tan in color although some will show a dull orange to black. They can reach a weight of 2 pounds and be up to 12 inches.
The Pacific sanddab is found in ocean waters from Southern California to Northeastern Alaska. As they mature, the one eye moves to the other side so they, like other flatfishes, become one-eyed. Their life span is up to 10 years. They are delicious to eat and normally found in depths ranging from 60 to 600 feet.
If you are looking for stripers and sturgeon, a popular area is the Freeport and Courtland stretch on the Sacramento River. The best striper bait has been mudsucker minnows while sturgeon prefer pile worms or ghost shrimp.
New Melones Lake near Angels Camp is a good bet for trouters. Trollers are finding toplining effective when pulling a variety of shad-colored lures. At Lake Camanche, trollers are finding rainbows willing to feed on Rapala lures in the vicinity of Hat Island. Fishing has slowed at Lake Amador. Crappie action was very slow. Small Mackinaws are being caught at Jenkinson Lake.
Some higher elevation lakes are beginning to ice over. It will be about four weeks before the ice can hold anglers.
Finally, the baffler: How high can antelope jump? Only 4 feet, not nearly as high as a deer.