The transition also means that we lose an amazing source of protein and a hobby that adds excitement to summer days. You see, Short Story, for us, is a working boat. Its hard fiberglass deck can take a beating and throughout the last two summers, it performed admirably as we became dedicated to catching as many Dungeness crabs
How this works is best told through a couple of summer days.
The process starts at Costco, where it’s possible to find chicken at the lowest price per pound. We load pounds and pounds of drumsticks into our cart to use as bait for the crab. Upon returning home, some of it goes in the freezer, some the fridge and some into a cooler without ice. This is where our dedication to crabbing is tested.
We’ve heard that crab may be more attracted to smelly meat, so Sachi started her own chicken spoiling project. The basic idea is to throw raw chicken into a cooler and let sit for a few days. Once it’s nice and ripe, it becomes the bait. This process is a reflection of Sachi’s personal dedication to crabbing. I am willing to take my chances on fresh chicken.
This year crab season started on July 12th in our area and we put traps out the first morning we could. That morning we got up and gathered all our boat things, like a dry bag, a bucket with crab tools and our four crab traps. It all barely fits in our car, which quickly becomes filled with the smell of rotting chicken. The crabs better love that stuff, I think to myself.
The marina is only a couple of minutes away and it’s a minor trial to get everything to the boat because the traps, which are metal cages shaped like big hockey pucks, are heavy and unwieldy.
The crab traps, or “crab pots”, are designed to sit on the bottom in 50-70 feet of water and we’ve weighted them with rebar to keep them in place. Leading up from the trap is a line attached to a buoy that has our name and address on it. As long as we’re in regulation, we can throw the traps into the sea almost anywhere we want. And that is the real challenge in crabbing: location.
Sitting inside the metal cage is a box that contains, in our case, radioactive chicken that acts as a beacon, inviting crab to enter the trap via little ramps which lead to trap doors. The traps are designed to catch not just crab, but the right crab. Small ones should be able to get in and out with ease. We want those little guys to grow big and strong and feeding them is a cost of doing business.