NorCal crabs have yet to grow meat inside shells
Sportsmenís Report
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By Bill Hanson  November 16, 2012 12:00 am



The phone at the ‘unnamed’ bait shop was answered by the manager. When asked about a crab report, he said his sister was not in right now, but if I wanted to know how the crab fishing is going, he could be of some help.

Real crabs are being caught, but the meat inside said crabs is not filled out as it might be. A call to Eureka, crab central for Northern California, confirmed the first report. Crabs are plentiful, and the smaller ones, just clicking on the measuring gauge, are nearly full of meat.

The real story is the bigger crabs, those you just eyeball and throw in the bucket, they have as little as 15 percent meat inside. This means you get them home, get the salad and French bread heated up, warm the butter and slice the lemons, remove the crabs from the boil and quickly plunge them into a sink of ice water. Everyone is licking their chops and smoothing down their bibs.

At last, the first one is cracked and inside the big claw, there is no meat. The whole thing is mostly just shell. They will fill in eventually; it is how they go about their business after molting in the summer and growing new shells. First, the shell grows, and then the soft parts, the part we eat, grow to fill out the protective shell. This happened last year, and the Department of Fish and Game held off the commercial crab season for several weeks.

We sport fishermen are OK to fish for our favorite crustacean, but we risk wasting our time and the resource, unless we take only the clickers, which works for most of us. They require a lot more cracking at the table to pile up your Crab Louis and end up tasting just dandy.

Hunting, fishing update
The unbelievable bright spot on the ocean is the Albacore catch, they are still being caught off Bodega Head some 20 miles out…an incredible season. Striped bass are biting on San Pablo Bay. Ask at the bait shop when you buy your live grass shrimp where the action is. The mouth of the Napa River and the Petaluma River are a good bet, as well as the Pump House on the Marin side.

Friends in Humboldt county reported on Facebook a beautiful buck taken at the end of the B-zone. This was only a four-by-four, heavy antlers with a big base. The photo shows a winter coat on the mountain and a smiling hunter. This was her biggest buck yet. Yahoo for Pink hunters.

Turkey hunting is underway, with no decent reports on how hunters are doing.

Mushroom report dismal
The mushroom report is still dismal, but the recent wet-cold-warm-wet-cold cycle should get the early season kicked off soon. Foragers are walking miles and miles for a few stragglers. One nice lady brought two gigantic king bolete to the show-and-tell talk last Friday, and the new kids were all agog.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.

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