(Rig Rundown is a continuing series on the Ranger Tugs Journal highlighting seasoned angers from the Ranger Tugs Community)
Martin and LaZina Nethkin | MV Channel Surfing | 2021 R-27, Light Grey
Where do you do your crabbing?
(Washington State) Oak Harbor, Everett, Langley, Anacortes, Possession Bar. I am always looking for additional great spots.
What species are you dropping pots for?
What type of gear are you using? (any pot pullers, etc?)
I run a Safe-T-Puller electric pot puller on a davit with an air operated foot bellows on/off switch. It's rated to 100lbs at about 100ft/min.
What is your process for rigging them up?
I run round pots only, with 2, 3 and 4 doors. (I have 3 different types of pots). I extend the harness to make them long so when the harness hits the top of the pot puller the pot is at the top of the water, but not out of the water. This keeps the pot from slamming into the side of my boat like a wrecking ball. If you take a 400' spool or 5/16"s leaded line and cut it into thirds, you get 133' of rope. If you take a 600' spool of leaded line and cut it into quarters, you get 150' of rope.
Most folks buy the "crab kit" sold at most marine stores. It's a square pot, no extra weight, 100' of rope and a single red/white buoy. This setup restricts you to about 60' of water or less for crabbing. A lot of people lose their gear set up like this. The pot is too light and drags on the bottom to deeper water. The single buoy gets pulled underwater when the current is running making it appear that your pot is lost/stolen.
All my pots are round, with 2, 3 or 4 doors. They are weighted (heavy) around 15 lbs each so they hit bottom near where I drop them, and they don't drag on the bottom. I run 133' and 150' ropes. I use a flag staff with 2 red/white buoys and I attach a red A-1 ball/buoy to the rope as well. I can see my buoys from over a mile away without binoculars. I can crab in 60' of water, but there's so many folks in the shallow water that I generally hang out in 80-120' of water.
There are just as many crab in 100' of water as there are in 50'. The big difference is there are a lot less people crabbing in 100' of water.
It also helps a lot to fish at least 4 pots. I will generally spread them apart by at least 100 yards. If you get skunked on one pot, or pull up a load of females, another pot will limit you out. Diversification works.
Care to share your secret for bait?
Ranked in order of which is better. (though, they all work for crab)
I don't use rancid bait, or foul smelling/rotten bait.
How did you get into crabbing?
I was born in Maryland and grew up eating Maryland blue crab.
What do you enjoy about it?
It's a numbers game. You always want a pot with more crab, more keepers, than the last one, and in less time. Plus, it makes for a great dinner. It's relatively easy as well, which makes for a great time out on the boat with family and friends. Sometimes we'll set pots for an hour or two and pull them and go home. Other times we will leave them out overnight. In July, we put away 50 lbs of picked crab meat in the freezer to hold us over all year.
How deep are you typically setting your pots?
I am usually in 80-120' of water. Though sometimes (rarely) I'll venture into 50 or 60'.
What’s the biggest haul you’ve had?
We pulled up a pot in Winter crab season (October) that had 20 crab, 13 of which were legal keepers. This was the first of 4 pots. The total between all 4 pots was 46 crab, 36 of which were legal keepers. We had 3 licenses on board and were allowed 5 crab per person per day. We kept 15 and threw overboard more keepers than we kept. It was a great day! (This was out of Everett, 4nm from our dock, November 1, 2020, in 100' of water).
We generally limit out the boat when we go crabbing.
Do you have any tips or special gear for cleaning them?
I recommend using the hatchet method to clean them. Crab flat on their back, place the blade of a hatchet just above the male pointer. Hit the hatchet into the crab which kills them instantly. Then finish splitting the bottom shell in half. Pull off the legs on each side. Clean off the gills and you're done.
Once you haul them in, do you have a favorite way to cook them?
I don't boil them whole anymore. It potentially cooks in any toxins into the crab. I clean them (as described above) and then cook them, which ensures all we are cooking is the crab meat. Also, since you're only cooking the two halves (legs/body) of the crab, you can fit a lot more in a pot. We steam them as opposed to boiling.
Any special seasonings, side dishes or beverages to pair with crab?
Maryland crab soup is my favorite to make with crab. Otherwise, crab cakes are a close second place... Pair with a good steak for surf and turf... But probably most often, we just sit around the table on the boat picking and eating the crab with melted butter. Nothing fancy, just good times with family enjoying a crab feast on the boat.
Special thanks to Martin Nethkin for contributing to the Ranger Tugs Journal.
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