After the end of an eleven day strike stemming from a price dispute, Dungeness Crab season is back. Our Emeryville Marina presents a convenient opportunity for locals to get a piece of the action. Fish Emeryville’s fleet of eight charter vessels offers fishing adventures like crabbing to experience the thrill of sportfishing in our vast Pacific Ocean. A fleet with boats like the Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn, The Drake and the New Salmon Queen.
The all-day roundtrip journey involves a 30-mile trip outside the Bay to the Farallon Islands and finishes back at the Marina parking lot crab tent where participants get to devour their catch. The trip is an ideal bonding experience for small groups of friends, family members and coworkers.
Dave Cornett, a retired veteran living in Chico, chartered a recent trip along with his buddy aboard the New Huck Finn captained by Jay Yokomizo. They opted to get a restful night’s sleep and stay at a local hotel prior to the early morning departure. Yokomizo’s customers can rest assured they’ll be in good hands with over 40 years of experience and a Coast Guard Certification.
Journey into the Horizon
The journey begins with a trip under the Golden Gate en route to the remote Farallon Islands. Crabs may only be caught outside the Golden Gate since the bay is considered a nursery for them. The Farallons are near the edge of the continental shelf and is a protected national marine preserve.
Once boats exit the bay, waves become rolling hills with approximately 18 second cycles. The boats go out when waves remain under eight feet. Swells appear suddenly, growing out of nowhere and rising as high as 25 feet. The wind turns the tips to froth and spray. The journey to the Farallons comes replete with sightings of whales, sea lions and even the occasional great white shark. Cornett described the feeling of sailing under the Golden Gate as “an exhilarating experience”.
Catching the limit
Once sightseeing is complete and questions are answered, the crew gets down to business. Crab pots are dropped into the shipping lanes median where crabs tend to wander. Boats are not allowed to anchor. Charters have enlisted technology called fish-finders that utilize GPS to help locate clusters of crustaceans. Sometimes crabbers catch the limit of ten in under two hours while some leave empty handed. There are no guarantees and going earlier in the season improves your chances.
One fisherman who returned on the New Huck Finn detailed how he quickly caught his limit but his buddy was less successful. “I only caught six and they were a bit smaller. I also got a bit sick on the way back and slept the whole way” he laughed off. “I thought I was the only one but when I went into the cabin, there were a bunch!” Dramamine is highly recommended if you’re prone to sea-sickness.
Cornett said he was also able to relax and enjoy a beer on the trip back inside the Bay and enjoy the sunset. Cornett also remarked on the camaraderie with the other passengers and crew. Boats generally return anytime from between 3:30 p.m. to shortly after sunset.
Crab Feast Reward
Once docked, the live crabs are go into a red net onion bag that will be dunked into the boilers for the tired and hungry fishermen. The steaming bags are then quickly transferred to a tub of cold water that stops the cooking while separating the meat from the shell. Not all fishermen eat their catch that evening. Cornett noted that he and his buddy planned on treating themselves to Chinese food at the nearby Hong Kong East Ocean and would take their catch home to their families.
The boats of Fish Emeryville are a bit of a family where captains and boat owners work together. If a charter has too few passengers, they’ll consolidate and share the profit. Boat owners will also help each other out with maintenance and repairs.
The trip costs around $150 to $175 with equipment and the required license. With the retail price of crab as high as $10/lb., the trip almost pays for itself. While Crabbing is popular around this time, Fish Emeryville also specializes in albacore tuna, halibut, ling cod, rock cod, salmon, shark, striped bass and sturgeon that all offer various degrees of challenges. The popularity and competitiveness of crabbing makes them increasingly scarce as the season goes on.
Considering a Sportfishing charter? Dress warm, pack some snacks (maybe some Dramamine), bring a friend … and a sense of adventure.
(Previously known as Emeryville Sportfishing)
Reservations: (510) 652-3403
Address: 3310 Powell St, Emeryville, CA 94608