Waking up to go crabbing at 7am on a Sunday after a night of partying was rough. However, it was a sunny morning, which brightened my spirits. Arriving at the Municipal Fishing Pier, as the sun was rising over the ocean, was a marvelous sight and made me glad to be awake. Since Dungeness crab is one of my favorite foods, it was a no brainer to sign on to learn how to catch it. In Pacifica, crabbing is done from the Fishing Pier where no permit is required. And the pier was surprisingly crowded at that time of the day.
We were lucky to be learning from the master Andy Pappas, aka “the Crab King.” He has been catching crab from the pier for decades. He assisted us with baiting the traps and attaching them to the fishing rods. Then, it was a matter of waiting and checking the line to see if any crab were ensnared. This is a very hands-on activity and Andy ensured that we knew how to do everything properly.
Andy is a character, knows everyone, gives them a hard time and dispenses advice like candy. He enjoyed introducing us as the journalists that were writing about Pacifica, which inspired several people to give us a crab for our collection. Andy likes to set up at several different locations to increase the odds for catching crab. We spent the morning following along in his wake while he checked each of the traps continually.
Crabs attach themselves to the trap, a basket the size of a large wallet to eat the squid so the lines need to be checked constantly. If there is a crab or two on the line, we reel it in and measure to see if it conforms to the minimum size. Andy likes to throw the females back so they can reproduce. The crab is removed and either thrown back or placed in the barrel along with the other captive crab and then it’s on to the next line
During the course of the two hours we managed to catch a total of 13 crabs but had to throw several back since they were too small. We ended with about seven total. Each person is allowed to catch up to 10 crabs per day so we could have stayed longer to catch our quota but we were anxious for a fresh cup of coffee and a hot breakfast back at our hotel.