Sportsmens Report
January 19, 2020
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Sportsman’s Report: Crabs and turkeys for the holiday table

By: Bill Hanson
November 15, 2019

Recreational crab season opened Nov. 2; Commercial take is on hold due to new regulations on stranded gear. Did you know crabs have their own web page? Here is an important message for lovers of this crustation from the California Department of Public Health:

Due to the detection of elevated levels of domoic acid, a naturally occurring toxin, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers not to eat the viscera (internal organs) of Dungeness crab caught in coastal waters. 

While domoic acid levels may vary, consumers should always follow these best preparation practices to avoid any inadvertent exposure to domoic acid that might be sporadically found in the crab’s viscera. When whole crab is cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crab should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (for example, cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips. Cooking crab neither decreases nor destroys the toxin in the viscera or body meat. Consumers are advised to discard the viscera and cooking liquids.

The best ways to reduce the risk are to remove the crab viscera and rinse out the body cavity prior to cooking, or boil or steam whole crabs instead of frying or broiling, and discard cooking liquids.

CDPH continues to coordinate its efforts with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the fishing community to collect and test crab samples from the impacted areas until domoic acid levels have dissipated. Please contact CDFW for information about the recreational Dungeness crab season.

Test results are updated as laboratory results become available and can be viewed on the CDPH Domoic Acid webpage. Please visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid FAQ for more information. To receive updated information about shellfish poisoning and quarantines, call CDPH’s toll-free “Shellfish Information Line” at (800) 553-4133.

All of that adds up to careful and heads-up fishing is the key to happy and healthy. The reports on the fishing sites run from limits to skunks, not the striped kind that smells but a trip for naught. Getting skunked is normal for sportsmen in any outdoor vocation., More troubling are the reports of thieves robbing whole crab pots and thieves stealing your catch in the crab trap. Now a guy who would haul up someone’s pots and steal their catch is breaking the law. One guy on the Facebook page for Bay Area Fishing opined that his position if he catches someone poaching his traps is to start shooting. Great! Just what we need in the field, nut balls. Other than reporting them to the Poachers and polluters hot line: 1-888-334-2258. Be sure to write this on your tackle box and hunting gear box. The reason we have game to harvest is the management of our resources.

It is time to harvest a gobbler for the holiday table, fall turkey season opened Nov. 9 and runs to Dec. 12. One bird of either sex or two per season. Remember the toms will not come to a call in the fall. You can still set out decoys and do soft chuckles, pops and purrs that may get a curious bird to come closer to your decoys. For the table a young ‘Jake’ is best to eat, that is a bird born this last spring. Jakes are smaller than hens or toms, usually have no beards or the heavy feathers of adults.

 

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