LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Crab season returns

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

AS EXPECTED, THE recreational crab fishing season will reopen Saturday.

After assessing the summer catch numbers, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that plenty of crab remain available for harvest.

The summer crab season never seemed to take off here on the North Olympic Peninsula, so hopefully that means the late-season harvest will be massive and delicious.

Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said most of the crabbing is done in the warmer months, but that means those who go out in the autumn and winter months stand to benefit.

“There’s less pressure,” Menkal said.

“With less people, there are more crab to go around. There’s less competition.”

Menkal added that many crabbers have already picked up their crab catch cards, even though Saturday’s opener was just announced Tuesday.

I know you might be asking yourself, “This crab news is great, but what about salmon fishing? The coho are coming eventually, right?”

Well, let’s say the amazing happens and it does end up raining around here one of these days.

It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to leave the salmon to be caught by some other jerk.

But it is also understandable that you want to take advantage of the crab reopening.

Which do you choose?

Both, my friends.

“The good thing about crabbing is you can throw your pot in the water on the way out to catch salmon,” Menkal said.

“And then pick it up on your way back in.

“It’s more efficient.”

The sport crab season will officially reopen Saturday at 8 a.m. throughout the Peninsula, including Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 12 (Hood Canal).

The fall/winter season will be open seven days a week until Dec. 31.

This is a change from the summer season, which was open ony Thursdays through Mondays.

There are two types of crab that can be harvested. Here are the particulars:

■ Dungeness — Males only, in hard-shell condition, with a minimum carapace width of 6.25 inches. Daily limit: five.

Identification: White-tipped claws and a brownish shell.

Note: These are the more coveted of the two crab species.

■ Red rock — Females and males, must measure at least 5 inches across. Daily limit: six.

Identification: Black-tipped claws and a reddish shell that is significantly wider than it is long.

Like the summer season, all crab caught during the late-season sport crab fishery must be recorded on winter catch cards.

These cards are available at license vendors, and are free to those with crab endorsements.

Razor clam dig a go

The razor clam digs that were proposed last month have been approved.

Marine toxin tests have confirmed the clams on the four beaches are safe to eat.

Unfortunately, Kalaloch is not among the beaches included in the opening session of digs.

As I wrote last month, the state and Olympic National Park are still trying to decide what to do with Kalaloch, but it isn’t expected that the beach will be open much this season, if at all.

As a reminder, here are the digging days, low evening tides and included beaches:

■ Saturday, 5:41 p.m., (+0.3 ft.) — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.

■ Sunday, 6:26 p.m., (-0.5 ft.) — Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks.

■ Monday, 7:11 p.m., (-1.1 ft.) — Long Beach, Twin Harbors.

■ Tuesday, 7:57 p.m., (-1.5 ft.) — Twin Harbors.

■ Wednesday, 8:44 p.m., (-1.6 ft.) — Twin Harbors.

■ Thursday), 9:34 p.m., (-1.4 ft.) — Twin Harbors.

The state will announce additional razor clam digs later this month.

It is important to know that diggers age 15 or older must have a 2012-13 fishing license to harvest razor clams on any beach.

Licenses, ranging from a three-day razor clam license to an annual combination fishing license, are available on state Department of Fish and Wildlife website and from license vendors throughout the state.

________



Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 10. 2012 5:57PM
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