Thursday, May 26, 2011

Red Rock Crabs

Crabbing is one of my favorite things to do around San Francisco. With the right materials, it is a very easy and fun way to catch your own food. James and I went crabbing on Valentines Day and it was a fantastic date. We like it because it is a fun outdoor activity by the bay and we can socialize between catches. When its really cold or rainy we'll wait in the car otherwise we enjoy the view. Our favorite spot is the pier under the golden gate bridge at Fort Baker. This spot also has an amazing view of the San Francisco fireworks on New Years. Crabbing is great food related activity that is fun to do with multiple people. Taking people crabbing for their first time is always a big hit- assuming you get a good catch. Plus there are often seals that come and visit. 


I have only experienced crabbing around San Francisco and therefor much of what I mention may not be true for other locations. For starters, you need to know the rules and regulations of your area. In the bay you can only catch Red Rock Crabs and other Rock Crabs. Every once and a while you may be lucky to catch a Dungeness Crab, but you are not allowed to keep it. Dungeness crab have slightly purple legs and Rock crabs have black pincher tips. There is a steep fine for keeping Dungeness Crab caught in the bay. There is also a fine for keeping crabs that are to small. All crabs caught must be four inches or larger. 

Female Red Rock Crab
You will need a crab net, a bait cage, lots of rope and old stinky meat. It is best to avoid the wire mesh bait cages because the seals can open them and steal your bait. Plastic cages with small holes seem to work best. Its best to bring extra rope until you know how deep your crabbing spot really is. As for bait, we usually go to Safeway and buy the chicken legs on sale. Although, I have heard that cheap cat food will do the trick as well. Basically they eat anything and everything, but the stinkier the food the larger your catch. 

Once you are at a pier or spot of choice cram as much bait into your cages which should be attached to the middle of your net.  Throw the net  into the water making sure it lands face up and let out rope until the net reaches the bottom. You can usually tell when you hit bottom because the rope will loosen. Don't forget to tie the rope onto the pier. Wait 10-20 minutes before pulling the net back up. Pull the net up fast so the crabs don't fall out. If you aren't having any luck its probably not the right season. I don't know the seasons exactly so its best to just google it. Although I seem to have the best luck late summer.

Once you have your crabs back home in your kitchen its best to give them a scrub because they are always really dirty. They are usually submissive if they have been out of water for a while, but you don't want to leave them out too long, because you want to boil them when they are alive for better taste. When it comes to cooking the crab, start by bringing a big pot to boil. How long to cook the crabs depends on the kind of crab and the amount. Once again, its best to google it. When you boil them, they die pretty quickly and turn bright red. Once they are done they should be oozing nasty green and white stuff. Let them cool and begin to crack, smash or pummel which ever works best to get to the meat.

Have you ever been crabbing? What is your favorite spot?

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