Crabbing with Phil Out of Half Moon Bay

Club member Phil Nguyen called me Monday night asking if I wanted to go crabbing with him and a friend Tuesday on his boat out of Half Moon Bay. Two nights previous, he set 7 crab pots a few miles outside of Half Moon Bay. Turns out I was free and said sure.

What time? 6am--which meant that I had to get up at 4:45am to meet him in a parking lot in Cupertino at 6am. I hate getting up at that ridiculous hour but that’s what you do to go crabbing with Phil.

After stopping for gas and coffee, we arrived at the harbor around 7:30am. It was just getting daylight, chilly and many crabbers were already out on the choppy water dropping and checking their pots.

I spotted one brave sole on a kayak hauling a crab pot. I love Dungeness crab but setting and retrieving a crab pot on a kayak is insane! But crabbers are crazy people.

Phil set his pots in depths of 150 to 250 feet and uses an automatic pulley system to haul in the heavy pots, taking 3-5 minutes to bring them up, depending upon the depth.

Limit for Dungeness crab is 10 per person. Our first crab pot yielded 7 nice crabs weighing 1 to 2 lbs each. Second pot bought up 5 crabs. Total crabs after two pots: 12--(18 to go!)

Crab pots are heavy, especially if full of crabs. And dangerous to grab from the pot by hand because crabs have powerful claws and pinchers. After carefully pulling the crabs from the pot, you need to “re-bait” using all kinds of disgusting bait including fish heads, fish carcass and squid. Anything nasty and stinky--the crabs love.

We hit the jackpot with the third pot yielding 21 crabs—Phil’s record is 23 in one pot. With 30 crabs total for three crabbers, we re-baited and dropped the pot back in the ocean for another day.

The trip back to the harbor was choppy and bouncy but we got our limit of crabs for three people. We were back home by 10:30am. Quite an experience! And the crabs were delicious!