Feeling Crabby

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I admit, it took a few deep breaths–Serenity now! Serenity now!–to get over the whole hitting-the-tree-with-boat thing, but the kids and I ended up spending a gorgeous day on the water. Sunshine, light breeze and a bucket full of big Dungeness certainly helped.

It didn’t hurt that after months of toiling on the second edition of Closer to the Ground, it was finally off to the printer, either. Big load off my mind, and I think it’s going to look great.

Most important, though, was simply being on the water with the kids. We spent a lot of time just chatting about random things, eating sandwiches, strategizing about where to put our crab pots. Both kids worked on boat-driving skills (hopefully better than my trailer-driving skills) and I think we all had a great summer day.

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Now That’s What I Call A Crab

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We don’t see many this size in Puget Sound anymore, but this is an honest-to-goodness, actually measured, nine-inch Dungeness crab. After a tough day of fishing–wind, rain, the whole nine yards–with the kids and our good friend Smarty, we stopped to pull Smarty’s pots. Plenty of standard, just-legal 6 1/2 inchers and this grizzled old mossyback behemoth. It was delicious. Of course, after a couple days of gorging, I’m pretty much crabbed out for the season. But Stacy and Skyla are still going strong.

The old-timers say crabs like this ¬†were the standard, back in the day. But now, with 300,000+ recreational crabbers plying the Sound, plus commercial and tribal fisheries, the big boys get weeded out pretty fast. It’s surprising, really, with that kind of pressure, that we have any crab to eat at all. On days when crabbing is open, a huge portion of the Sound looks like a slalom course of buoys.

But so far, the crab population seems to be holding its own, and we’ve had good catches for the last several years in a row. Just not many like this guy. I understand, though, that crab populations are cyclical, and I wonder how they’ll do with this much harvesting going on when their numbers trend downward naturally. Guess we’ll find out. In the mean time, we take just what we need and eat it with great appreciation.