The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is open from November 3, 2018 through June 30, 2019 south of the Mendocino-Sonoma county border* and through July 30, 2019 north of the Mendocino-Sonoma county border*. The daily bag limit is 10 crab, and the minimum size limit is 5¾ inches.
Beginning of crabbing season in San Francisco
It seems that the fishermen have been waiting an entire year for this day. The night before the massacre they get together their nets and crabbing snares. They have been fermenting slices of most rotten chicken for weeks, to use as a bait for the crabs. The measuring tools checked. The ropes the gloves. The lights! Yes, most importantly the light. You have to come to the Pacifica pier almost at 11 pm the day before to get yourself and the crew a spot.
One of the best spots to go Crabbing in San Francisco is at the Pacifica Pier. You can freely crab off of any pier without license. All the images taken in this post are from the Pacifica Pier.
Address: 2100 Beach Blvd, Pacifica, CA 94044
It is a busy night before the crabbing season opens. And then, precisely at midnight the ropes with nets drop hitting the waves of pacific ocean. The game is on!
Below the surface
Down below the surface crabs are crawling one on top of the other, sensing the presence of so much rotten fish and chicken that they simply cannot resist. They forcefully crawl on top of one another, making their way to the banquet, little knowing that they are the main course. The crabs are fighting to get their claws on some of that rotten feast. And then after just a few bites, pleasant meal turns into an unexpected vigorous ascent. The crabs are in panic and they are out. Out of their element and into the air followed by few more jerks, a cold cling of a measuring tool on the outer shell, and boom the crab is in a plastic bucket.
On the pier
There is much of the same disorganized commotion above the water. A single person attempted to take a few spot at a time, hoping to save a place for his friends. A group of people physically moving his snares, without saying much, reminds him that the power is of the majority. the space is scarce the heat is on. If you didn’t see the pillars and the concrete of the pier, you’d think that you’re on Discovery’s show “Deadliest catch.” Joints and blunts smoldering, music blasting, beers untapped, nets dropped.
It is almost nostalgic because you know that only a hundred or so years ago people were doing exactly the same thing on that early morning in November. In the day of ultra cleanliness, advance technology and snobbism it is such a pleasure to watch men work with their hands to put a meal on plate that night. There’s something primitive and simply human about the whole procedure.
It was an amazing fun to take part in this uniquely Californian experience. In addition, on other trips to the Pacifica pier I had a pleasant experience interacting with the local Chinese people, who taught me a few tricks of the fishing trade. As a result of this learning experience, I caught some smelt fish to marinade.
Caution: Catching food in the wild, who are exposed to pathogens can predispose you to acquire hook worms, or w.e. else. Exercise caution while thoroughly cooking your fish.
Fishing at the pier with kids
It was an amazing fun to take part in this uniquely Californian experience. In addition, on other trips to the Pacifica pier I had a pleasant experience interacting with the local Chinese people, who taught me a few tricks of the trade. Got some smelt fish to marinade.
Many families come out to the pier to fish together. It could be a fun bonding activity for you as well.
Note: You don’t need fishing license in California if you fish off of piers.
Caution: Exercise cation while catching food in the wild, you will be exposed to potential pathogens if you don’t cook the sea food properly or decided to consume it raw.