Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sealion Menace

I havent been crab fishing in quite a while, so this blog has atrophied. But I thought I'd just share some ideas on the menace posed by sealions.

First, its a privilege to see these wonderful mammals while we are fishing. Many people only get to see these creatures in the zoo, if at all. We get to interact with them in their natural environment.

That said, it can be dispiriting to see a sealion dive down every time you throw a trap in the water to mangle your bail cage and steal the bait.

(1) Do not underestimate your enemy. They will rip apart bait cages sold by most fishing stores. They have strong jaws and can mangle solid metalwork.

(2) For bait cages, check out goodwill for old freezer baskets etc.  I then affix these upside down onto the base of the crab trap using as strong plastic ties as you can find. Leave an opening so you can get the bait in and out.

(3) When you bait the cage, close it up with ten more plastic ties. Bring a cutter to open it up again when you need to, and a fistful of ties to reclose.

(4) You could do worse than buying a couple of square meters of wire mest, and bash it into an envelope with at least two layers of mesh per side. It doesnt have to be pretty, it just has to be a pocket.  Nail it shut using 30 plastic ties that also connect to the trap base. Because this is basically flat, its harder for sealions to get their teeth around it.

So remember, next time you go fishing, DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Invader crabs

Make sure that if you see these babies, you report them. These are green crabs I photographed in Europe, and they are invading the west coast of America. These are in a bucket, so you can see the size - a few inches across.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Good places to go crabbing in the bay area

I've tried crabbing at Santa Cruz pier, but it was pretty disappointing; There are three good places to go; the Municipal Pier in San Francisco, Torpedo Pier near Fort Point, and, if youre after Dungeness specifically, you need to go to Pacifica Pier: No Dungeness crabs can be caught inside the Golden Gate Bridge. Everything else over 4 inches is fine. That means largely Red Crab and Brown Crab (Either appear to be called "Rock" Crab, depending on who you talk to. The law states that you do not need a fishing license to fish from a public pier, certainly the 3 listed qualify.
The municipal pier is off the end of Van Ness pier. There's a brief Yelp discussion on it, that doesnt say much more than this here.

Update: Because this page has had a few visitors, I'm updating it with some more details on the locations mentioned.

(1) Torpedo Pier, San Francisco.
 This pier (wharf, according to Google) is right under the Golden Gate Bridge, in the Presidio.
It has excellent views of the bridge, Tiburon, Angel Island, Alcatraz and North Beach. To the left, out of picture, is Fort Point, well worth a visit, and to the right, on the edge of the picture, is a nice beach, part of Crissy field. So the wife and kids have plenty to do while you get down to the serious business of catching dinner.
The largest building at the base of the pier is the "Warming Hut", where you can get lunch, sandwiches, coffee, tea, etc., as well as souveniers and reading material. Urination facilities are in another hut nearby.

 Parking is an issue here; the best place to find parking is on the road in front of the huts. However, there are only 4 or 5 spaces here (accessed from Long Ave), so good luck with that; to access the main parking lot, for some insane reason, you have to go back up Long Drive, through the Presidio to access the Crissy Field entrance, and then drive back all the way down to the wharf. That's because some bright genius decided that its far better to have more cars driving all over the place than to allow direct access from the Crissy Field lot (where you see all the cars to the immediate right of the base of Torpedo Pier in the picture) to Fort Point. So you are more likely to get parking by entering through Chrissy Field. But you're going to be lugging your gear a bit further.

Taking Dungeness (market) Crab is illegal here, because it is inside the Golden Gate Bridge. The area is policed, so make sure you throw ALL Dungeness back (personally, I think that this rule should be lifted here; first, because its only a stones throw from the bridge but the next public pier is all the way down in Pacifica, but secondly, because the size limit should cover the bit about letting the young crabs grow up in peace, right?). Having said that, please follow all crab regulations, which are conveniently posted at the base of the pier. A cassette tape box (the black part) makes a great measuring device for the red and rock crabs you are allowed to catch here.

Once you get here, its a great place because the tourists going past remind you what a thrill it is to be able to fish in this place.

(2) Pacifica Municipal Pier.

Its a long walk to the end, where you'll want to be, but food and hot drinks are to be found at the base of the pier, as are public toilets.

Parking is one block south, where you see the cars next to the coast in the picture. If you are missing bait or tackle, there is a shop on the corner, one block back from the beach and one block south of the pier. Sealions are once again in abundance, and you need to be careful to stay away from the pylons supporting the pier because they have huge blocks of mussels at their base that easily trap your lines. So when you throw your gear out, throw it away from the pylons. The surge is strong out here, so make sure your lines dont float back around them. Another thing to remember here is that the pier is high over the water, and the water is deep, so you are going to need a good long rope if you are using traps. I cant remember the exact length, but you need to be thinking 50 feet or so.

At this location, I'd recommend using a fishing rod with the small bait cage with loops that you snag the crabs arms with. Use a good, strong rod with a few ounces of lead to get the bait out. Occasionally, people will come buy selling these for about $5 (or at least they used to), but of course thats probably illegal (as most selling by non-corporations seems to be these days), so I couldnt possibly recommend it *cough*. Also, this area tends to see a lot of enforcement, so make sure that you follow applicable law regarding catch size, maximum take, and so on. This might vary, so you need to check (ask around on the pier), but according to, the maximum number to take is 10, and the minimum size is 5.75 inches across the shell. Please throw back females carrying eggs, regardless of whether its legal.

(3) Santa Cruz.
Parking is a nightmare. If you live here, by all means walk to the pier and try your luck.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cooking Fish in Seawater a waste of time?

According to a new article in Time, "Michael Mina is even going so far as to poach fish in actual seawater at his Vegas restaurant American Fish. ...Michael Mina is even going so far as to poach fish in actual seawater at his Vegas restaurant American Fish. "
But when I take my crabs home, I take seawater with them to boil them in, because it does, in fact, taste better.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Recently, I've been considering taking a leap and buying a fishing license so I can grab some molluscs off the rocks. It seems a bit expensive to clean the coast, especially given the few low tide occasions available per year. Still, at least the catch is guaranteed. Anyone got any pointers?

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm thinking of going mussel hunting this year, but for that I'll need a fishing license, some good locations for hunting, and patience to wait for low tides. On the plus side, I found a new tide calculator, this one has a nice chart of how high and low the tides get.

So far this year, I havent made it out to Pacifica, although I hear the fishing is good. Instead, I made it to Maxim Market today and bought 2 Dungeness for about $11 - something around $2.50 a pound. One was quite good, with nice brown flesh under the carapace - the kind that hangs together, and isnt soup - and the second was a little lighter inside, but still nowhere near as bad as some I have bought.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Help me, I'm melting!"

Decided to take the day off an go fishing on Monday, as the Bay Area is sweltering under a heatwave. I spent most of the day in the shade by Torpedo Pier, drinking water.

The fishing was somewhat poor, as I only caught a red, a brown, and a dungie (returned, but too small to feel bad about having done so). Both crabs were reasonably heavy though, and had some decent brown meat. The weather was unbearably hot, and the tide moved from slack to fast incoming while I was there. The red was caught in the slack, the brown just at the beginning of the tide.

Today I have installed a moon-phase calender on the blog, and maybe someday I'll find a tide indicator also.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from others that are fishing out there; any tips are welcome, also any observations regarding best time to fish, and how it relates to time of day, tide, moon, weather, etc.