The first crab of the commercial season started to show up at the docks in Bodega Bay on Monday morning.
"Our boat unloaded, a few others have come in, but not a lot that has delivered yet," said Tony Anello, owner of the Spud Point Crab Co. "It looks like the same as last year but the grade is smaller, although as time goes on the crabs will get fuller."
Anello had a pot going in front of the family's store and restaurant on Westshore Road, where crabs were being cooked, put on ice and sold for $5.99 a pound.
Bob Kint drove in from Tracy to buy two, as he said he does several times during the crab season.
"I want the fresh ones," said Kint, who bought two cooked crab. "With luck, they may make it home before I eat them."
G&G Market also had a small amount of crab in the store Monday afternoon, which was selling for $6.99 a pound.
The commercial season opened on Sunday for the central coast, an area from Gualala south. The season north of Gualala opens on Dec. 1.
Fishermen are expecting the catch to be similar to last year, when only 1.1 million pounds were caught, the third year of a steady decline.
The crab season is cyclical. In 2005 there were 6.1 million pounds caught and a large catch is expected again next year.
This year, however, the catch from sport fishermen, whose season opened a week ago, and the first of the commercial catch has reaffirmed the low expectations — most of the crab are a little too small to keep.