Spring is finally here. With snow down south, we’re
basking in ever longer days and highs in the mid to
upper 40s. Ranger Dug and I went out with the crab
rings to try our luck in the channel in front of town.
It’s pretty cool to be able to fish right in front of
a capital city of a state.

We caught maybe 6 or 8 dungeness and tanner crab
fishing for an hour or two. The rings are made of
rebar, about 6 foot diameter, with netting across the
rebar ring. You put some bait in the middle (we
usually use salmon scraps from my processor), and toss
the ring over with a line attached to it with a buoy
at the other end. We set about 5 rings out and then
put some water on, drink a cup of coffe, and check
them. If we do well, we throw the ring right back
where it was. If nothing, we move it deeper or
shallower to see if we can find where the crab are.
We caught lots of tanner crab that were just a hair
under the legal sized, showing the effect of the crab
fishery a month earlier that got most of the legal
sized ones. Those just undersized should be large
enough later this summer after their next molt.

After things slowed down on the Douglas Island side of
the channel, we moved to the mainland side, near the
mouth of Sheep Creek. As we were setting the rings –
I drive and try to watch our depth and Dug throws out
the rings at intervals, we happened to pass a black,
algae-laden bouy that looked like a crab pot that was
abandoned/lost. After we set the last ring, the wind
blew us back up the channel. Dug saw the black buoy
again and alerted me so we thought we’d check it.

When we brought it up, it was a dungeness pot just
loaded with huge dungeness crab and one or two
tanners. The pot was “ghost fishing”, as the prior
user did not put the required “bio twine” on the latch
strap for the pot. That strap keeps the pot lid
closed, but the strap is supposed to have a
biodegradeable piece of twine so that if the pot is
lost – like this one was – the twine will eventually
degrade and break and allow the crab to get out of the
pot. A pot without this strap just keeps fishing and
once the crab are in the pot they cannot get out. As
the crab in the pot die, they attract more crab, etc.
Not a good thing.

So, we brought back in the pot, notified the state
that we had the pot and that they could take it or
we’d, of course, keep it, and then made a lot of
friends happy distributing our bounty.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801