NOAA predicts Oregon Coast El Nino 2023 Albacore

A big weather change is coming, and albacore tuna aren’t far behind in Coos Bay, Oregon. La Nina is over according to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and the chances are strong that an El Nino event in 2023 is likely late summer and fall for the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Change can be rough in life and the weather this winter is no different. Large swells in the 12–15-foot range are common, and fast-moving fronts are the norm. This has led to fewer days at sea for my charter vessel, “Cape Blanco”, and more stories to tell of winter weather and bar crossings. Maybe this rough weather is all for the best? If you believe the weatherman this all points to a El Nino in the summer of 2023. According to Google, the five strongest El Niño events since 1950 were in the winters of 1957-58, 1965-66, 1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98. It has been 17 years since the last strong El Niño event, the longest such stretch without a strong El Niño in this 65-year period. The obvious fact is we are overdue for an El Nino! However, this morning we awoke to snow again on the beach! What an odd sight to see here in Charleston. Be patient, I tell myself, enjoy the seasons and the natural order of things. Life goes by so fast. The cold wet weather outside spurs my imagination and promotes my insatiable appetite for research. I start watching You Tube videos filmed in warm blue water places like Cabo and New Zealand. I can almost see myself fishing Albacore, Marlin, Dorado, and Mako. I remember how I felt that one day listening to Post Malone, “White Iverson”, while riding the warm waves fishing tuna. That was a moment, untouchable by the worries of everyday life. What are some of the songs that punctuate rare moments in your life?  I heard a song the other day that’s lyrics explained it all to me and helped me understand my motivations to seek out more rare moments in life. It was an unlikely artist, Miley Cyrus, and her song “The Climb”. Listening to Miley Cyrus is probably not a manly thing to admit, but rare fishing and hunting expeditions are my mountains to climb. Seeking out  rare moments is my passion, and perhaps it’s a wonder that survived my youth feeding bears trout, searching out hidden cabins on remote seashores, and hitchhiking to fishing holes. So back to being patient and fixing my still wet and worn-out raingear. I am awaiting my next adventure to the edge of the Earth with my long lost little bother El Nino. El Nino’s arrival in Charleston will mean albacore tuna are close. Marlin, dorado, and yellowtail following close behind.

Halibut, lingcod, rockfish and crab can be offered on a fishing trip in Oregon!

In the spring central coast all depth halibut fishing season of 2022 in Oregon, ocean sport fisherman can now land halibut, lingcod, rockfish, and crab on the same trip! Fisherman are applauding the new regulation as a victory for local stakeholders and ODFW biologists. At a time when our voices seem to go unheard at the state and federal government level this story is a positive reminder that sometimes the system does work. Population stock assessments for the Canary Rockfish and the Yelloweye Rockfish have been revised with better data and as a result we are seeing the benefits in our sport fishery this season. This example of fisheries management changes emphasizes the need for revisiting stock assessment done in the past when less was known about the distribution of the rockfish populations and there range. Which is much larger than many imagined. The yelloweye rockfish, slow to recover from past overfishing by commercial net trawlers, has limited many fisheries along the west coast for the past 20 years. The stock, which has very long lived individuals and slow reproduction maturation is been slowly rebuilding and has now reached a level where the sport halibut fishery can have some impact on the population without being as strictly limited for fishing opportunities. Our fishery off the Oregon coast is one of the most protected and healthiest fish populations in the world.  The state and federal managers can now allow retention of lingcod and some rockfish species to be kept on the same fishing trip. This is a huge deal for us to be able to retain fish for clients that normally would have to be released. This has added big poundage gains to the amount of fish a client takes home at the end of the fishing trip. At a time when fuel prices and inflation are forcing businesses to increase their prices it is a welcome thing for us to be able to add value to the client on their investment. When our captains take you out, they want to maximize the amount of fish you take home, adding value to your trip beyond just what the experience is worth. In many of the photos now online from our website and newsletters you can see these fish lining the decks right along side the halibut and lingcod.

Six Pack Charters for your family ocean adventure

Long gone are the days when the only way to get out to the fishing grounds is to hire a school bus sized charter boat to take you and your family out for the day with 25 total strangers. Today the options are much different thanks to the advent of reliable outboard motors and aluminum fishing boats. Here at Sharkys Charters we offer four of the newest , safest, and largest available six pack boats on the Oregon coast. Purpose built for fishing in the Pacific Northwest , our vessels go to seas with a maximum of six passengers. Captain Jeff and Captain Chris often prefer to fish with just 4 people on the 26ft North River Seahawks. While Captain John and Captain Silas often take larger groups up to 6 people on the 32’ vessels they operate. Both larger vessels are equipped with restrooms for groups that require them. While both smaller vessels offer less people aboard. Take a look at our website photos to get a glimpse of the vessels and read captains bios. Here at Sharkys we may not be the cheapest in town and we are not trying to be. We offer quality and uncrowded experiences on the ocean for your family our group. If you don’t have a group to go out with a lot of the time we can pair you up with another small group. Above photo is Captain Chris’s vessel fishing for salmon in the spring time off the Charleston Oregon coastline

Electric Reels: Put fun back into fishing deep!

Reeling, reeling, and more reeling is one of the main things I remember about halibut and bottom fishing trips that I went on as young man with grandpa. It was just part of the trip and the adventure to have cramped arms and sore shoulders after reeling hundreds of feet of 50 lbs. monofilament all day. Grandpa would drive the boat and let us young guys do the work of reeling up fish after he had put us on the spot. Our Penn Pier reels could handle salmon or halibut. One turn of the handle brought in about a foot of line. Drop down and reel up for eternity was just how it worked tired or not. I know if he was with us today he would be right there alongside us and we’d be fishing deeper than ever looking for the big ones with our electric reels. Electric Reels have put the fun back into fishing deep, allowing people of all ages and strengths to enjoy ocean fishing again. The first electric reel I used was on a fishing trip out of my home port of Charleston Oregon with Chinook Charters. Bob pointed the vessel north from port and we headed out on a spring day to fish Tenmile reef using homemade lead jigs weighing about 3 lbs. each! I signed up for the adventure just to see how these new electric reels worked and Bob always could make me laugh. If anyone has fished with Bob you’d know he is quite the character. An ex school teacher from the east coast , he had used all his patience up years ago on kids asking to many questions. Bob has the accent and mannerism of what I image a New York cab driver to be like.  On first inspection of Bobs treasured electric reels they were huge and cumbersome; big red amazing and wonderous monstrosities. They hauled those huge 20lbs lingcod, 3lbs jig, and all the line up from 300 feet of water in no time and all I had to do is hold on and push the button. Bob was my newest hero for showing me the way of the future!  Now you might say that is cheating but I will tell you what after spending all that time in my youth reeling I felt like I had earned the break! fast forward 20 years and today’s electric reels are much different than what I had used with Chinook Charters. They are smaller, more affordable, and reliable. So when I started Sharkys Charters 9 years ago I had to have a set of them so we could put the fun back into fishing deep for our clients just like Chinook Charters Bob had figured out years ago. What I have learned in the past ten years that has most impressed me about the electric reel advantage, was that anyone now could fish for the deep-water fish as long as I  could get them out on the ocean. Young and old especially could now participate in catching fish from the deep. It opened back up fishing to people that couldn’t have done it for health reasons or physical limitations. I like to use them for our trips fishing halibut, deep-water long leader rockfish, and live bait lingcod. Today all our boats here at Sharkys use Diawa Tanacom 750s. If you’d like to learn more about them and use them on your own boat check them out. Push the button and let it do the reeling for you!

Dungeness Crab Opens 2023

The season is finally open and we can combine crabbing with all of our fishing trips in the ocean. So far catches have been excellent with limits of large 2 lbs. crabs being caught while we were fishing. On a typical day we head out fishing and drop our crab pots on the way out, and then head off for the fishing grounds. On the way back from fishing we head back to the pots and pick them up with our Scotty brand pot hauler. It’s nice to have everyone participate in the measuring and sorting. Looking over the side of boat waiting to catch the first glimpse of the pot is a favorite. Once we get back to land we take them to get processed at “Fillet Away” by Leroy and Patty. They steam the best crab I have ever had. Be sure to ask for the garlic lovers flavoring. It adds so much to the flavor of the steamed crab. Be sure to crack some and eat it on the spot. There is nothing quite as good as fresh ocean crab straight out of the steamer.

New! North River Six Pack Vessel for 2023

Sharkys Charters, with the support of our clients, has grown and expanded our fleet steadily in the last few years to have the fastest and newest six pack vessels in Oregon. Our Captains are Prostaff for the top industry manufacturers of aluminum boats on the west coast. Both Raider Boats and North River Boats have recognized our charter company has the most experienced and qualified captains and supported us with brand new vessels. We are First Class and second to none in Oregon. I am so proud of what we have to offer our clients as a result. Last season we were blessed to have added the “Pretty Girlfriend”, a 28’ North River and Capt. Silas and Lee to the family. Now, Id like to introduce to you all the the newest member of the Sharkys Charter fleet, C/V “In Pursuit”. Captain Silas and his wife/deckhand Lee have been awaiting a once in a lifetime dream fishing vessel and she’s finally here! This 31’ North River Sounder is built to catch fish! With a 9’6” beam and full walk around cabin there is plenty of room to spread out and fish. 6 electric reel ports. Double insulated fish holds and live tank. Twin Yamaha 300 Power Plants provide all the get up and go you could want. Add the new North River hull design for the smoothest ride. Garmin electronics, radios, radar and Helm Master controls for outstanding navigation and fish finder capabilities. No more climbing over the gunnel of the boat with her dock side entry. Full cabin with heater, ample seating, and sound system. We even added a potty for the ladies! We’re looking forward to this upcoming fishing season and hope to see you all out there!

Halibut Season 2023 Update

Its time for anglers to start booking with us for the upcoming halibut season . Halibut season in Oregon traditionally runs from May thru September. Fishing is good to great throughout the season with limits common on fish in the 20 to 30 lbs. range. Every season a few lucky anglers catch 100 lbs. and larger. We are currently taking reservations for the 2023 season. We anticipate halibut fishing 7 days a week so there should be lots of opportunity to harvest your 6 fish allowed per year. At the time of writing this newsletter the season setting process within Oregon Dept. Of Fish and Wildlife is taking place and comments are being taken on how anglers would like to see the season dates, and bag limits set. I wrote a letter to the department this year asking for 2 halibut per day and allowing us to fish seven days a week. I think that there is a very good chance that in May we will be allowed to harvest 2 halibut per angler a day plus rockfish and lingcod. This would be an awesome number of fish for the effort we all put forth. I expect the season to look a lot like last year weather wise with conditions improving as the season goes throughout the summer. I think we will be able to keep rockfish and lingcod with our halibut in May and June. Then for the remainder of the summer we will be doing long leader rockfish with our halibut combo trips. All of our captains want to see you take home the most number of fish possible on our trips and have a great time while doing it! With 5 six pack boats ready for fishing, we can accommodate large groups or private charters.

Spring Salmon and Rockfish

The ocean spring salmon combo and long leader rockfish trips are really going well, with limits caught on the best days. The salmon fishing will only improve as the summer nears but it is hard to imagine it much better! Lingcod is slowing down a bit as the breeding season comes to an end and the fish return to a more normal feeding cycle and disperse into the habitat. Crabbing in the ocean remains great with limits of hard full crab being caught daily. Halibut season opened in the nearshore yesterday April 1 and I heard a few were caught. May 12 is the big halibut opener for all depth and we are really gearing up for the extended Spring Fishery date May 12- June 30 we are able to fish all depth everyday. This is something I have never experienced or had the opportunity to do for clients so I am very hopeful the weather cooperates.  Tight lines and we will see you on the water!

World Record Canary Rockfish 11.85 pounds!

Hello friends its almost Christmas here on the Oregon Coast and the winter is upon us. Rain, wind , and a big swell become the new normal for us here in Charleston. I am a native Oregonian though and come prepared with Gore-Tex and wool socks. One thing I have definitely noticed as I have gotten older is that the cost of my raingear has sure went up. Staying dry and warm is a lot more important to me than it has ever been . This year I ordered Pro Dry Raingear from Simms, and as a Pro Staff for the company I have got to say it was one of the best purchases I have made this season. Retailing at over 1000$ for the top and bottom it is the most expensive gear I have ever purchased. It is however the lightest, thickest, and most comfortable well fitting gear I have ever owned. Bone dry in coastal downpours for hours. You’ll see me wearing it this season on all my drift boat steelhead trips, and ocean charters with the new boat. We have been getting out a little this winter for lingcod and rockfish and experienced great catches like Id expect for this time of the year. Rockfish are congregating to spawn and so are the big lingcod making it even easier to target them on the reef. Just a few weeks ago I got to reel in a world record Canary Rockfish. I was fishing a deep reef, 300 plus feet deep, with the electric reels and squid baits when I hooked up with her. Man did it pull hard I thought it was a lingcod until I got a look at it on the surface. Like looking a a trophy deer or elk there was no ground shrinkage on this fish. I knew it was a likely record breaker as soon as it was aboard. I had caught alot of canary rockfish but this one was the biggest at 11.85 lbs. beating the world record by almost 2 lbs. Now the process of getting it certified is something else. SO many hoops to just through. We weighted it on certified scales at Chucks Seafood and shot video of it all if you’d like to see it. Easy to just go to my Facebook page and see it in the recent videos if you missed it. I once caught a largemouth bas that was as big as this fish in a pond near Lebanon Oregon when I was a kid. It would have been the next Oregon State record for bass but we didn’t get it certified and actually ate the fish. It wasn’t until years later I met a pro bass fisherman and told him the story that I found out that the fish was a trophy record breaker. I have to laugh about it all or I would cry. LOL. I know what your thinking its just a fish story but I am Sharky! Ill tell you if shit is going to happen good or bad it seems to happen to me. I have always been both blessed and cursed when it comes to this in my life. For example I came upon 7 resting marlin just 20 miles of Charleston this summer and couldn’t hook one of them! It was an amazing experience though and I bet you see me with one next season! I hear of lots of steelhead being caught in all the local hatchery holes this season which is a big change over last year. The regular bank maggots are plugging up the holes on the West Fork and East Fork of the Millicoma and as the season goes on its only going to get worse. The word is getting out that the fish are biting. So go early and get a rock. Try and be friendly and keep a positive attitude but be ready to run to get your piece of real estate. Otherwise call me up and we can get you out in the boat with a nice seat and platform to cast from for the day as we drift the river. I love fishing all of the river from the Umpqua to the Elk.  Last season the fish never showed up in any number and I think it was the worst steelhead season I have ever experienced. This year sounds a lot different and I am really looking to getting the drift boat back out and having some double digit days again like we used to. I cant wait to use the LURED beads that Randy Bales is shipping me. These beads he has are UV covered and the steelhead seem to really go for them. They are a hard bead so fishing them is a bit different than say the new/old soft beads. Lots of information on the LURED BEADS website. Both work great for steelhead. I always say that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. You just have to figure out what works best for you and then master the technique. Confidence in your presentation is key. These steelhead are not hard to catch just hard to find some days and getting the lure in front of them is key. One last thing remember what they say about months that end in R. They are crab months and its time to get your crab on. I am running trips in the bay this season which is a new one for me and its affordable at 100$ a person so lets go! So get out and enjoy the rain this winter and catch a fish or two. Until then Ill see you on the water.

Dungeness Crabbing in Coos Bay Oregon

Pursuing, sustainable harvesting, and eating wild protein gathered from the land or sea is a great passion of mine that I would like to share with you. In a world of fast food, and prepackaged meals it is easy to forget that the food you consume is the most basic ‘medicine’ for good life and prolonged health.  Eating wild proteins will prolong and sustain your outdoor lifestyle while nurturing your hunter gather soul. At 43 years old, I realize half of my life is likely over and I want many more days in the field in the years to come. Staying active and eating right is how I live and I want to promote that same lifestyle to you as the path to success and a full life as an outdoors-man. Catching, cooking, and eating food from the wild will satisfy you on many different levels both physically and spiritually. I was born a hunter and fisherman and have a place at the top of the food chain. I am not complete unless I am out finding my place in nature. I want you to find your place in nature and live a full rich life.  One of the super foods I recommend you seek out and harvest on your next adventure in life is the Dungeness crab. High in protein and essential omega-3 fats, this feisty crustacean will fill your stomach and leave you supercharged. In this article I am going to cover some of the most basic skills and products sold by Fish Field the crabber must have as well as some of the tricks I have learned over the years to fill my traps and belly with crab. So, if you’re looking for a saltwater adventure, or just looking for a few more tips on some of the basic gear needed for catching crab from a boat, dock, or shore then this blog is for you!

Just under the cold green and blue waves of Pacific Ocean that break along the west coast of Oregon, California, or Washington awaits one of the most prolific, ravenous, and sometimes mysterious crustaceans know to the saltwater adventurer. The Dungeness Crab. These large, agile, and extremely tasty crab are best served freshly steamed with melted butter. Sought out for their sweet and succulent meat by the hungry adventure, Dungeness crab are armed with strong pincers and they won’t go quietly into a boiling pot without a fight. To capture the crab the fisherman must first seek them out where they live and choose the correct trap, and bait for the situation.

Most recreational crabbing occurs from the shore, dock, or boat in depths from 15-100 feet of water. Dungeness crab amazingly occur in depths all the way out into and over 600 feet of water where only the heaviest commercial pots are able to fish! The basics of crabbing involve setting a baited trap or ring with a buoy and rope attached onto the bottom of the ocean floor, letting it soak for 15min up to a few days, then retrieval of the trap, and sorting of the catch for legal male crab. Male and female crab are easy to distinguish from each other visually. The state regulations on harvesting recreational crab will have good illustrations on how to sex the crab and each state has its own requirements for male size, license, and limits to harvest them.

Investing in superior crabbing tackle is one main step’s to ensuring a good catch. You get what you pay for when it comes to crab pots and rings. I don’t know how many times I have helped people that not catching and using traps that are poorly maintained, and improperly rigged, or to light for the area they are crabbing. A good crab pot or ring is made with stainless steel wire, rubber wrapped or coated, and has some good weight to it. Investing in the best equipment you can afford will pay huge dividends later. Follow this link  to quality traps and rings that Fish Field offers. Fish Field crab traps will catch you more crabs faster and hold them longer than any other product on the market.  Choose between a ring or trap and get as many as the state will allow you to use per angler. In Oregon at the current time of writing this article anglers are allowed three traps per person. Having the maximum number of traps will increase your ability to cover more ground looking for that hot spot, and when you find it allows you to quickly harvest your limit. When you choose your trap keep in mind a few basic concepts: rings are usually baited and checked more often than traps, are more compact and lighter on average than traps, and usually less expensive.  Both work in different ways to trap the crab. A ring will not hold a crab other than when the ring is being pulled and when bait is present. Rings fish fast, and can be pulled after only a few minutes, this is because the crabs don’t have to find a way through the trap gates. It’s easier for marine mammal like seals and sealions to steal your bait from the open ring. Using a ring off the dock is usually how people are introduced to crabbing and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and family when a boat may not be practical or available. Always lots to see and do on the docks while pulling rings and sorting through lots of undersized and female crabs. While you’re on the docks check out the weathered salmon troller’s, gulls, and sea lions. These are just a few things to see and photograph off the public docks. If you make it to my home town in Charleston, Oregon you will find the port friendly to the crabbing adventurer.  Try your luck at one of the many dock fingers in the . I recommend D-Dock or E-Dock which are closest to the ocean, and the cool incoming water. Make sure to bring a bucket to sit on and put the live crabs in. If you are lucky enough to have a boat and can trap in the bay or ocean you will likely want to use a cage trap. The cage trap works by allowing the crab to pass through a one-way gate, attracted by the bait, and then traps them inside the cage where they can’t escape. High quality traps like those offered by Fish-Field often have three one-way gates per trap to increase the speed at which the traps catch by making it easier for the crabs to find an entrance into the trap. Cages are also good to use in the ocean and the bay because they allow you to set them and then go fishing or sightseeing for a few hours while the trap soaks and catches. Its always a great feeling knowing that trap is working while you are off fishing and adds the anticipation of the additional catch. If your going to set your traps in the bay or ocean where currents and tidal influenced depth changes are a consideration know your tides and get a current tide table. I like to use an app on my smart phone called Tide Chart Free.

Always a favorite topic among crabbers is what bait to use. I worked as captain on a commercial crabber for many years and now as professional guide. I can tell you my favorite bait to use is free bait! If I had to choose just one bait for a 6-8-hour crab trap soak my favorite would be three or four, one-night old medium sized rockfish carcass, pinned to the roof of the trap.  If I plan on soaking my traps overnight, I will use a hanging bait like a rockfish carcass and then I will use a baiter that holds the bait inside of it so the smell gets out but the crabs in the trap cannot get at the bait to eat it. Squid or clams work really well for the baiter. Many other baits like chicken, turkey, squid, salmon, work well and can be easier to find than fresh fish carcasses. Chicken thighs from the local grocery store can work great and can usually be bought in 10lbs bags. If I am going to use chicken, I like the to put it on a bait pin so that the crab can eat it and break of little pieces that will float off in the current and leave a trail of bait and scent to the trap. A common misconception is that crab like rotten bait. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fresh is best and lots of it. Pro-cure makes a great product, crab and fish attractant, that has really increased my catch . It based with fish oils and bite stimulants. Soak your bait in it overnight and it will supercharge your bait making a longer scent trail for the crab to follow. The days the crabs aren’t biting that good, the fish oil really makes up for its up for it and will increase your catch. When they are biting and hungry and you use the crab and shrimp attractant watch out! The traps will be so full!


Tides are a big consideration when crabbing, especially when your crabbing in the bay. Tides in Oregon are semi diurnal and variable. This means that there are two high, and two low tides within a 24-hour period and the height of the high and low differ. The greater the difference between the high and the low tide, measured in feet, correlates to the amount of current produced by the tidal change. The greater the difference between the high and the low tide the greater the current speed produced during the tidal exchange. When crabbing in the bay or ocean strong currents during tidal exchanges should be avoided as they tend to submerge buoys or in the worst case drift the trap off and it can be lost. There are places in the bay to get out of this direct tidal current. These are often located behind points and always out of the deeper current. Local knowledge and experience will help identify these places. Look for other crabbers and their buoys to locate some of these places. The Oregon Department of fish and Wildlife has also created maps of the many bays open on the Oregon coast. These maps identify good places to crab. A visit to the local ODFW office will provide you some valuable local knowledge also. The two hours around high tide are always the best and crab are most active and up feeding then. When a crab is not up and moving around feeding, they bury themselves into the mud or sand and rest and filter feed while conserving energy. I think a common misconception about crab is that their diet is based solely on scavenging for protein, when in fact the primary source of food for crab is plant based. Filter feeding on plankton, brought to them by the currents, serve as the basis for their mainly plant based diet. In the ocean strong current is less of a problem but can be encountered. Choosing the correct line diameter and buoy combination is very important because it keeps your buoys visible and up in less than desirable conditions when the current is running strong or in the ocean where the swell and wind are creating rough conditions. You can’t pull your traps if you can’t find your buoy. Many days in the ocean and bay have been saved for me because I used the correct length and diameter of line and appropriate buoy combination. I like using a sinking crab line or a neutral density line paired with two buoys in 5/16 to 3/8 diameter. For the depths that I recreation crab in a 5×11 main buoy and a small egg buoy trailer 8 feet behind the main buoy. Paint your buoys a unique color and pattern that distinguish your buoys from others. Have fun with this and be creative. The most visible colors are florescent. Many beginner crabbers tend to over buoy their gear resulting in lost traps. The buoy is so large that actually will drag the trap off when the current is strong or the swell surge pulls the rope tight. It is better to be under buoyed than over buoyed. The smaller buoy will pull under until the current or swell subsides and won’t float the trap off from where you set it. It is also a good idea, and required by some states to put your contact information on the buoy so that if it does get moved or lost there is a chance that you might get a call from another crabber that has found your lost pot. I prefer to fish in depths from 35 to 70ft when I crab in the ocean. On my traps I found that 100 feet is a good all-around length for most of my crabbing. You will want to find a soft sand or mud bottom to set your pots on. Using your vessels depth sounder is a good way to determine the bottom type. Every depth sounder is different but a good rule of thumb is the thicker the bottom line is and the more scatter under that bottom line is the harder the bottom is. Next time you are out look at your sounder and pay attention to the differences in the bottom line when you are over known rock of softer bottom substrates. When setting the pots, I will mark waypoints for each trap that I set and I most often set the pots in a string or line if you will. I spread the pots out when searching for crab, or I concentrate the string when I found a hot spot. The main thing is to leave enough distance between the traps so that when you go to pull them you aren’t drifting over top or drive onto to the line of a nearby pot. I like to use a electric crab pot puller made by Scotty. It saves my back and makes pulling traps easy. Otherwise pull it hand over hand and coil the rope as you go. Two people make this task a lot easier. When pulling the pots, I will try and determine the direction the trap is in relation to the buoy and approach so that as I grab the buoy and put the engine in neutral the boat slides toward the trap and creates slack in the line. You will know if you have approached the buoy from the wrong direction if the line becomes tight as soon as you grab it. Determining how to pick up the buoys is one of the great rewards and challenges a captain will overcome.  If you ever find yourself over one of your lines and it has not become tangled in the prop the best thing to do is put the boat immediately in neutral and then allow the current to float your vessel off of the line. If line does get tangled in your prop, I will raise my motor up and then reach out with a boat hook and try to slip it off. If I was unable to I would cut the line as short as possible and reverse the engine to try and free the prop. Many times, the prop will cut the line and free you. If you can’t free yourself be sure to set anchor immediately if your drifting towards a hazard. Signal a nearby vessel for help or call the coast guard. You can always call the help off if you remedy the situation yourself.

Finding the crabs sometimes can be tough and mysterious. They also go on and off the bite. This is especially the case in the spring. Crab don’t occur everywhere and sometimes you have to look for them. If I am not catching crabs I move. Try a different location or depth. Sometimes the crab are all caught up on certain grounds or other times all you might be catching is female crab and small males. If this is the case move a great distance maybe miles until you find the big male crab. They are usually together. One trick I use in the spring when crabbing gets tough because they commercial fisherman have caught most of the large keepers, I go looking for places near hard bottom and reef where it is tough to set a string of gear. One good pot can yield as much out of one of these hidden areas as a string of ten in a picked over area. Move your gear until you find the crab. In the spring I usually will crab in depths around 60 feet while in the ocean. Any shallower and I feel I am risking losing my pots if a swell greater than 6 feet comes up. In the summer, when the swell is usually below 6 feet I may move in shallow as 30 feet. Safety is always a concern when crabbing on the shallow beach areas. Its always a good idea and basic seamanship to have an anchor aboard sufficient to stop your vessel from drifting into the breakers if you were to have a motor be disabled.

Now that you have caught some crab keeping them alive until you can cook them is important. I like to place the live crabs in a bucket or large cooler where they can settle down and be out of the direct sun and wind. Keeping the crab moist with saltwater will prolong their life. I have kept crab alive in a cooler with a saltwater soaked burlap bag for 24 hours many a time. Do not however make the mistake of placing the crab in a bucket of seawater and thinking they will do better submerged for extended time. What happens is the crab breath the oxygen out of water and excrete co2 into the water. Left to long in the bucket filled with water they will drown and die. Dead crab should not be eaten as the meat degrades very quickly. Left out in the air and kept moist they can survive much better. You can choose to cook the crab whole with out removing the shell or remove the shell, guts, and gills. A quick search on You Tube should find a video on how to clean them. I like to steam my crab after cleaning them. The meat comes out white and I leave all the mess at the cleaning station on the dock. I like to steam them for between 15 -20 minutes. If you choose to boil them whole do this for at least 30min at a rolling boil. Some people prefer boiling the crab because it adds the flavor from their guts to the meat. I think it makes it taste to crabby. Each to their own! Once cooked I crack the shells and enjoy. One 2-pound crab full of meat in the winter will yield a salad bowl full of meat!

Now that you have the basics and a few new tricks from the captain get out and crab this season and catch some of the best wild free-range protein in the sea. Feed your passion for adventure, and explore the Pacific Ocean and coastline. There are many unique and wonderful ports to visit in Oregon. Crabbing is a great way to spend the day or just add to the catch of fish the end of the day. With a bit of practice and the right bait and quality equipment from Fish-Field you to will be catching crab like a pro and eating healthy!