Oh for the glory days! Kayak crabbing in 2009
Honestly, for environmentalists, sustainability advocates, and people who just happen to like nature, the naming of Myron Ebell (above) to head the EPA is about as horrifying as it gets. We're talking about the leading climate change denier on the planet. It would be like someone nominating David Duke to run the NAACP--only it's actually about to happen! I'm not sure where this leaves us all. I'm not sure what to say or what to do. It's like getting punched in the gut. I feel like I'm on the ropes and waiting for the bell to save me.
What Can We Do?
Maybe what happens here is that we all commit to getting more involved. I plan to do whatever I can to keep an eye on the crew of foxes (apologies to foxes for the analogy) now running the hen house, and will use this blog as platform to let people know about any egregious misuse of our resources. And I'm happy to learn about and share any other positive actions we can take together. That seems like the least I can do.
Late Fall/Early Winter 2016 Mini Update
A-hem. Hello everybody. Kirk here. It's time for an abbreviated Coastal Update!
Firstly: if you want to find out about my herring list... see below.
Secondly: if you got a copy of my book and actually like it, it would help a lot if you could go to the Amazon page and give it a nice review. We've sold quite a few at this point, generated a lot of positive feedback but have only gotten two reviews on Amazon. Thanks ahead of time for this!
Thirdly: we've got some cool book readings/events coming up at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur on Saturday, November 19th, the San Gregorio General Store on November 26th, and the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum on December 11th.
Fourthly: there are still a few spots available on my S.F. coastal fishing & foraging tour on December 27th, book here.
Promars rigged and ready
Well, the commercial crab opener is upon us and all the crabbers are busy scurrying around the various harbors and docks in our area, getting their pots out to the crab grounds. So we should know by tomorrow afternoon (11/16) how it's going out there--but everyone is expecting a banner harvest of huge crabs.
Now as far as those folks who intend to catch their own crabs via pier, beach, kayak or skiff, the sport crab opener on (Nov 5th) was a total bust. The two weeks between the sport and commercial openers are usually the days of wine and roses for sport crabbers. Not so much this year. Nevertheless, I have a stack of crab snares ready to go for anyone who wants to purchase one (or two, or three). These are weighted snares made by that most excellent beach fisher: Champion de la Banana. Just e-mail me if you want to pick some up (in SF) or have me mail them to you. 10 bucks per snare if I hand them off, 12 bucks if I have to ship them.
This year I salvaged a pile of old rusty Promars (apologies to Nicko von Sharkenheimer, they're still yours dude!), and spruced them up a bit with rebar and bait bags and new buoys and lines. If anyone needs details on how to rig for crab, there's great stuff on the Norcal Kayak Angler's website. And some helpful diagrams in my book! But be mindful of the new "rotten cotton" regs from DFW (see below).
New 2016-2017 Regs:
(c) Crab traps:
(1) Crab traps shall have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter
inches inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five
inches from the top of the trap.
(2) Starting August 1, 2016, crab traps shall contain at least one destruct device of a single strand
of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed escape opening in the top
or upper half of the trap of at least five inches in diameter when the destruct attachment material
corrodes or fails.
(3) Starting August 1, 2016, every crab trap except those used under authority of subsection 29.85(a)
(5) of these regulations shall be marked with a buoy. Each buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the
operator’s GO ID number as stated on his/her sport fishing license.
This would be all well and good if my traps were regular pots, but fold up Promars are not made of rigid wire like Danielsons, so I'm not sure exactly how this 5 inch opening is to be measured. Hopefully I'll run into a warden before I drop my pots.
This Just In:
Well I put off posting this update till after the crab opener. And here's the intel: the shallow water crew, including most kaykers and the hundreds of folks out on Pacifica Pier, skunked and skunked hard. The subsequent two weeks have seen a few lucky crabbers but not many. I spoke to some game wardens working the ramp in Princeton a day after the sport opener and they said there were virtually zero crabs caught inside 200 feet. The deep water folks kicked ass and took names however. One guy told me he had 20 keeper crabs in a single pot, for a two hour soak at 300 feet! This of course bodes well for the folks with big boats and heavy traps, for everyone else it's rather a bummer. Josiah Clark and his crab derby at Linda Mar netted a whopping total of 10 crabs for 100 total pots (with 3-5 pulls per pot) in conditions that he described as “gnarly.”
(Josiah called yesterday 11/14 to say he got easy kayak limits at intermediate depths off Linda Mar--just FYI)
But that's sort of the deal with early season sporty crabbing. Big effort in snotty conditions for mixed results.
Here's what it looked like on Pacifica Pier at 3am, the morning of the crab opener. Now imagine that you decided to partake in this miserable elbow to elbow style of "combat crabbing," and for your efforts, left the pier with nothing. In my mind that constitutes the very definition of wasted hours. But, I guess some people enjoy the camaraderie of elbow jousting and tangling lines with strangers. All I can say is, to each his/her own.
Herring: To Text or to Tweet?
Remember this video from last year? Don't miss out on this year's spawns, follow me on Twitter: @seaforager
So here's the deal. I'm changing my game plan as far as the herring list goes. Rather than sending out hundreds of texts which is a ridiculously time consuming and ineffective way to go about things, I'm going to utilize these lovely American technologies that already exist (ie: Twitter, Instagram). If you want to find out details about the when and where of this season's coming herring runs, follow me: @seaforager.com. Here are the codes:
Code red = a given spot looks promising, but no in-shore spawning is presently occuring
Code yellow = some light spawning has recently occurred or is occuring presently
Code green = the spawn is on!
For those people new to this Coastal Update list here's the basics on herring:
Pacific herring spawn inside SF Bay every winter (usually starting in December and lasting till early March). And can be caught in great profusion by throw-net from many inner city locations. The trick is to find where they are spawning—that's where I come in. Think of Sea Forager as you own personal spotter plane for herring.
Herring do not typically feed while spawning and do not live long enough to bioaccumulate toxins. So they are local, fresh, abundant, healthy and delicious. If you are not into eating small fish, herring spawns are an amazing natural event, one that any self-respecting nature buff/bird watcher should experience. Picture thousands of shore birds, gulls, pelicans, cormorants, along with seals, sea lions and human piscivores all joined in a feeding frenzy of pre-columbian proportions—in your very own town!
In any case, I'm really looking forward to herring 2016/2017 hoping to see a few of you out there!
Rockfish, Cabezon, Lingcod
A nice "bolina cod"
Rockfish/ling/cabby season remains open till Dec 31st, and although it's becoming difficult to find keeper sized commercial-grade lings there sure seems to be an over-bundance of 22-23 inchers. So one of the nice things about crabbing in the early winter months is that you can drop your pots in the sand and then go over and hit the lingcod and rockfish in nearby rocky areas. There are still quite a few jacksmelt and kingfish available in nearshore waters if you're looking for live bait.
Nice tidal events coming up this month as the lunar cycle brings back the big minus tides. Look to the middle of the month 11/12-11-16 but be advised you have to be off the beach with clams/clam gear 30 minutes after sunset. Predictably, the big minus tides return in mid December. So try to get out to the mudflats or the rocky intertidal between 12/11-12/14.
And that will do it till some time in December. Until then, I hope to see you at, on or near the ocean.