Winter King Crab

We got about a one week winter king crab season for personal use fishing in the Juneau Area.  The season opened yesterday, and I went with Chris to set his pot.  The regulations allow one pot per boat, and one crab per family, for the season.  So it usually works out that people with boats and king crab pots and usually a mechanical puller (run by hydraulics, gasoline or dc electric) set their pots, and then they go out to check the pot with a bunch members of other families, each with a permit for one crab.

I hadn’t had much contact with the Ukranian family since late last winter, when they would go out with us fishing for salmon and crab in the channel.  I was out on the tug most of the summer and so regrettably didn’t get them out salmon fishing.   I got in touch with them and they were eager to go.  Mom was working now for the school district, dad for a contractor, the older son in high school still didn’t talk much, and the elementary school daughter was a chatter box, now with perfect English.

Two of Sierra Leoneon sisters also went – Absatu and Dorothy.  Chris’s cousin who recently moved back to town, and who had done missionary work in places like Peru and Papau New Guinea were also aboard, along with Bob and I.  It was like a floating United Nations out there.

It was a cold morning, so we let the boat warm up a half hour, then steamed about about 45 minutes to the pot Chris and I set the day before.  I hung the buoy line with the grapple hook, helped Chris work it onto the hydraulic hauler, then Chris had me run the hydraulic valve while he coiled the line by hand.  The pot came up from about 300 feet in a minute or two.  And it was plenty full of keeper king crab, along with a few tanner crab.

Chris and I attached the bridle of the pot with the hook from a line on the boom, then Chris lifted the pot with the hydraulics over the deck.  His cousin let loose the bottom purse of the pot, and the crab fell to the deck.   I rebaited the bait bags while the rest of the crew ogled all the crab.  We took the 6 biggest king crab and 2 tanner crab, and threw the rest back – many of which were also legal size.

Chris re-positioned the boat to the spot he wanted, and he and I and his nephew pushed the pot back overboard.  Tomorrow we’ll have new people with us to get crab for them.

Before we headed to town, I filled out my crab permit with my catch of one, and I helped the Ukranians and Africans fill out their permits, as permits need to be filled out before leaving the harvest site.

Next, I lit the crab cooker as Chris headed the boat back to the harbor.  I put a few inches of sea water in the bottom of the big pot. Only 3 halves of king crab would fit in the big pot at a time.  It took about 10 minutes of steam to cook each batch.  As we pulled into the harbor about 45 minutes later, we were pulling out the last batch – the two tanner crab – and all the crab was cooked when we tied up.

A beautiful day, with high overcast skies and temperature in the 20’s, and a lot of happy campers.

fishermen on crabbing boat in Alaska
man lifting a large crab net on boat in Alaska

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