The docks are rocking at Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay, with sports fishermen reeling in their first batches of Dungeness Crab, and professional seafarers fortifying their boats for the opening of the commercial crab fishing season on Sunday.
The trappers who catch the tasty crustaceans for sport began their season last Saturday, and they're reporting a bounty of good-size crabs crawling just off the North Coast shores.
One of the early birds on the water was Chris Pellascini, owner of Tombe Realty in Sebastopol. He set out on Saturday with four friends, and they caught the limit, 10 crabs per person, in about an hour.
2010: Prepping For Crab Season
"It's been just fantastic," Pellascini said. "We haven't had it this good for a long time. .<TH>.<TH>. They're good size crab and they're full of meat."
Professional fishermen are encouraged by the early reports, after working the waters for several years and finding few crabs that were large enough to legally catch.
"It's been pretty tough the last three to four years, with no salmon season whatsoever, and not a whole lot to catch in the crab season," said Chuck Wise, a director of the Fisherman's Marketing Association of Bodega Bay. "The guys out here, we could all use a paycheck."
Wise said he expects 60 to 70 boats to work the North Bay waters this weekend. His crew will start setting gear in the water around 6 a.m. on Saturday and will begin pulling pots just after midnight, bringing in their first crop of crabs as the sun rises Sunday morning.
"It's an all-night deal for the first few rounds," Wise said. "You have to get your share, because once they're caught they can't be caught again."
Wise is helping negotiate the price fishermen will get from buyers. The association represents about 200 fishermen.
"Expectations are pretty high," said Randy Burke, a commercial crab fisherman who said he's been in the business most of his life. "I hope we get a good price, for me that's the main thing."