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Dungeness Crab Fishing - Pacifica Pier

Recreational Dungeness Crab fishing opens in the Bay Area each year in November.  It's easy to catch them from the Pacifica Pier in Pacifica or Half Moon Bay, CA just south of San Francisco. Best yet, you don't need a license to fish from Public Piers in California.  

Kim holding a Rock Crab

There are two types of crabs you can fish for from the pier, Dungeness and Rock crabs are abundant.  Check the CA fish and game website  for size and take limits and information on crab species in CA.

 

A Triple Header!

 

Fishing from the pier can be done with a drop net and bait like fish heads or chicken but the take is usually rock crabs with that method.  Rock crabs can be large and delicious but their shells are hard so they are harder to crack after cooking.  They also have less meat.  Sea lions also love to attack crabs feeding on drop nets.

 

The method I prefer is using a fishing pole with a  Crab snare (see photo below).  Snares, bait, tackle, measuring tools and advice can be obtained at the Rusty Hook fishing shop near the Pacifica Pier.  Sometimes you can buy them from other fishermen on the pier for around $5.  It helps to put a small 2-3 ounce sinker in the basket before adding bait so as to get a better cast and to keep the trap put on the ocean floor.  The end of the Pacifica Pier is the best spot to try.  Toss your snare as far as possible.  Let settle to the bottom and then reel in the slack until the line is taught.   Wait about ten minutes.  Then, reel in very slowly to get rid of any additional slack.  As soon as you feel the weight of the snare, pull the rod tip up hard and fast.  If there is a crab on, it will feel extremely heavy and hard to reel in.  Sometimes if you wait too long, the crabs will pull the traps into the sand.  If that happens just keep trying to free the trap and crabs by pulling up on the rod tip.  Be very careful when releasing crabs from the snare.  Rock Crabs can bit hard.

 

My friend Mel and I went fishing on a beautiful Saturday and caught this pile of Dungies and Rock crabs.

 

 

 

 

The Snare with an unwelcomed guest

Mel with Rock Crab and Snare

Fishing is also popular on the pier.  Kingfish, Jack Smelt, Perch, Striped Bass and even Salmon can be caught from the pier.  Baitfish like Anchovies can also be caught using Sabiki Rigs purchased from the Rusty Hook.

 

Jack Smelt

Most important, the pier is beautiful and family friendly.  The view is stunning on sunny days.  Sea lions, and many bird species are common sightings.  One time I even saw a whale swimming in the distance from the end of the pier.  There is a coffee / snack shop called the Chit Chat Cafe with bathrooms conveniently located at the end of the pier.  

 

Finally, be sure to check the weather before you go.  It can be cold and the sea can be rough on windy days.  Get out there and have fun catching crabs.  The season generally runs through 6/30.

 

What a View!

 

A closer look at the huge claws of the Rock Crab

 

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Tags: Chit Chat Cafe, Crab Fishing, Crabbing, Dungeness Crab, Pacifica Pier, Rock Crab, Rusty Hook, San Francisco

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Comment by Found Fruit on May 18, 2011 at 9:25am

Hi Pasha,

Let me know if you have any questions about crabbing.  Michele and I need to go again soon too.

Kim

Comment by Pasha on May 13, 2011 at 11:37am
I'm so on this... You can catch me by the waves next weekend! :)
Comment by Michele Senitzer on May 13, 2011 at 10:19am
Get 'em while you can. Dungeness crab season ends June 30th.
Comment by Pasha on May 13, 2011 at 9:16am
What a great Idea! This looks like a lot of fun. Do you know if May is still a good month for crabbing? Thanks!

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