Meandering Angler: Want Dungeness crabs? You have to catch them yourself

In spite of the delay in opening commercial crab season along our coast, and even with the the ban of the usual crab pots used by recreational anglers, full limits of fat Dungeness crab are being caught off the Sonoma Coast virtually every day.

Capt. Rick Powers of Bodega Bay Sportsfishing has taken out full loads of recreational anglers on the first two days of recreational crab season and returned to the dock with full limits for all on board, along with limits of rockfish, and some ling cod.

Buying a fishing license and catching them yourself is the only way you’re going to see these tasty crustaceans on your dining room table before the State of California allows commercial anglers to set their traditional crab pots on Dec. 1.

The delay and restrictions were put into place because of the potential of entanglement of humpback whales and leatherback sea turtles in trap gear. The current regulations allow recreational anglers (non commercial) to use hoop nets and snares for crab, which the California Department of Fish and Wildlife claims are not likely to become tangled with migrating whales and turtles like the more traditional “pots” use in most crabbing.

Rick has managed to equip the clients on his party boat, “New Sea Angler,” with the gear that is acceptable to the CDFW and it seems to be working very well. He says the crabs have been up to three pounds.

To reserve a day’s fishing with Rick, call him at 875-3344.

Steve Kyle met James Park, owner of the Red Truck Fly Rod Company, for a day of trout fishing on the Yuba River east of Marysville last week. They had a great day catching and releasing lots of feisty, hard-fighting rainbow trout up to 17 inches.

Fishing guide Hogan Brown regularly works on that part of the Yuba and says the river looks really healthy now with lots of spawning king salmon and trout feeding on the eggs. If you’d like to fish the Yuba with Hogan, you need to reserve a day weeks, perhaps months, in advance. For more information go to his website at

King salmon numbers in coastal and Sacramento River waters may begin to increase thanks to a new hatchery release policy implemented by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife three years ago. The experiment involved releasing the hatchery fry virtually at the Golden Gate, as opposed to the previous release point further closer to Vallejo or way upstream at the hatchery

The most recent study verified that the salmon survive at twice the rate of those released near Vallejo and many times the rate of those fish released at the hatchery.

The Golden State Salmon Association, cited the new report in recommending that the state move more hatchery releases closer to the ocean to maximize the benefit to all Californians for more salmon.

Early rains have dramatically improved sturgeon fishing in the northern part of San Pablo Bay this month. Keith Fraser at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael says he’s been getting excellent sturgeon reports from anglers fishing in the sturgeon triangle between China Camp, Buoy Five and the Pump House. Check with Keith at 415-456-0321 for the best places to fish.

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