Sportsmens Report
January 23, 2018
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Sportsmanís report Abalone, crab and mushrooms

By: Bill Hanson
December 22, 2017


The California Department Fish and Game (CDFW) Commission has closed the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery scheduled to open April 1 of next year, “...Due to ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource.” Although they mention it may reopen again in 2019, but they make no promise. Thinking about causation, the CDFW board mentions no specifics as to what those environmental conditions are, past reasons given were, poaching, too much pressure by sport divers on the resource and ocean conditions adverse to spawning conditions in the salt water beds. 

As broadcast breeders, when the time is right male and female abalone produce ejecta that floats to the surface. As the sperm and ova meet a zygote (proto baby abalone) emerges and begins to build a shell. When the shell becomes too heavy to float the baby sinks to its home on the bottom and grows on its own, feeding on kelp. Estimates are from 11-13 years before they reach minimum sport-catch size of seven inches at the widest measure. The fear in years past by the sport fishers was the reintroduction of the California Sea Otter. When you dive in the Sea Otter beds near Monterey, there are no abalone as far as their little furry arms can reach inside rock cracks. They were wiped out in the early 1800s off our waters by Aleutian hunters who worked for their Russian masters. The long term result is the abalone fishery we’ve enjoyed for the last hundred-fifty years. To read more on the CDFW abalone issues, visit this link.


Due to poor crab meat quality test results conducted at the beginning of November, the CDFW has also delayed the opening of the Crab season. Crab quality tests ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting, also subject to the testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee that is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. Although they do not mention domoic toxins that kept the crab season from opening for months last year, they do have some concerns of that issue resurfacing. This link to the news is very long, you might consider going to the main CDFW web site and drilling down. They did mention a tentative opening of Dec. 16, there has been no confirmation.


The key to mushroom hunting is rain, the sunny days are great, the cold nights are in step with the season but the rains must come in a rain, dry and cold, rain cycle to stimulate the mycellium into flowering. Think of a mushroom as an apple, it is the spore bearing fruit of the plant/animal that lives primarily underground, kind of like an apple tree that you have to dig up to see. Like an apple, seeds to propagate a new tree is in the apple core. For a mushroom, the spore (seed) is under the cap or may be on other parts of the fruit. Like an apple, people love to eat them, the edibles anyway. We have to share edibles with bugs and slugs who may win the battle by turning our ‘shrooms into yucky goo. I’ve tried to explain to the slugs and bugs that they would be just as happy eating ‘shrooms people do not eat, like talking to my own kids, they don’t listen to me at all. So play with the drone you got for Christmas a bit longer or visit our wild boar population with a gun.

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