After a string of tough years, Dungeness crab season opens

Fisherman Niko von Broembsen takes a break as crab fishermen prepare for the opening of crab season at Pillar Point Harbor, Half Moon Bay, California, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. After enduring several of the toughest Dungeness crab seasons in memory, Bay Area crab season opens Wednesday, and for the first time in three years it looks like there is nothing to stop your plans for a crustacean-filled feast this Thanksgiving. The domoic acid poisonings that delayed the season over the last two years do not appear to be a problem this fall.  (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

HALF MOON BAY — Only hours away from the official opening of Dungeness crab season, men and their boats swarmed around Johnson Pier on Tuesday afternoon, each fisherman praying that this winter will reverse a long, hard stretch of bad luck.

“Three bad years. We need to start digging ourselves out of the hole,” said Niko von Broembsen, 49, of Oakland, sunburned and weary as he raced to prepare for one of fishing’s most dangerous, uncertain and lucrative catches.

“We have some of the best quality crab out there,” he added. “We just need to go get it.”

Boats bobbed in the water as fishermen impatiently waited in line at Pillar Point Harbor for a hoist

Fisherman Niko von Broembsen takes a break Tuesday as crab fishermen prepare for the opening of crab season at Pillar Point Harbor. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

to drop dozens of 100-pound pots onto freshly scrubbed decks. On docks, amid the beeping of frenetic forklifts, men loaded some pots by hand, shouting as they ran up and down ramps.

Then the loaded vessels cruised out of the harbor, fading into the late afternoon sun, so the fishermen could drop dozens of pots out at sea.

If all goes well, they would be positioned and ready to haul up their pots by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday — the official opening of the season.

Then, under bright sodium lights, they’ll peer at the pots to assess their catch.

“It’s like looking under a Christmas tree,” said 55-year-old crabber Todd Korth, helping load two boats, the New Day and the Roaring Twenties-era Smith Brothers Two.

“After bad seasons it’s nice to look towards something pretty good,” said Korth, a Campbell resident. “There was lot of hurt on the whole fleet, up and down the coast.”

Recent years have been disappointing for consumers, who look forward to the sweet, briny meat for special holiday feasts at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and January community crab feeds.

On Tuesday, Ray Snyder, who orders all the fish for Lafayette’s upscale Diablo Foods market, was looking forward to the crabbers’ first haul — and lots of satisfied customers.

“If we have crab through the holidays, everyone’s real happy,” Snyder said.

With an “atmospheric river” storm headed our way from the tropics, opening-day weather could be an issue, he said. “But if we get lucky and they get their pots pulled Wednesday, then we might have some crab Thursday,” he said.

Otherwise, he expects to have crab from

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

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