Poor outlook for crab season

Expectations of a poor commercial crab season are being reinforced by Bodega Bay sport fishermen who are finding plenty of crab but ones just too small to be legal for professional fishermen.

?I think the crabs are smaller this year,? said sport fisherman Bob Black of Bodega Bay, who with two friends put out 10 pots Saturday ? the first day of the sport season. ?I don?t think there are many commercial sized.?

Sport crab fishermen are allowed to take 10 crabs with a minimum size of 5.75 inches, a half inch smaller than those commercial crab fishermen are allowed to keep.

Northwest swells of 18 feet Saturday kept the sport fishermen in the outer Bodega Bay, within the shelter of Bodega Head and just off Doran Beach.

Black said they caught 25 crabs between the three of them, but none large enough to be kept by commercial fishermen.

?All of ours were sport; we didn?t catch any commercial crabs,? Black said.

The Central Coast commercial season opens Sunday, while the season north of Gualala opens Dec. 1.

Still, there should be legal-sized crab out there and caught in time for Thanksgiving Day dinner, said Michael Lucas, president of North Coast Fisheries in Santa Rosa.

?We?ll have crab at the end of the week,? Lucas said. ?We have fresh cooked crab now in the store .<TH>.<TH>. it is selling for close to $6 a pound, but the price will drop as soon as our season opens.?

The price of crab will be negotiated this week between the fishermen?s associations in Bodega Bay, San Francisco and Half Moon Bay and seafood buyers.

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