Fish & Feathers: Local recreational crabbing is good

<I>RON MALAST photo</I><BR>Crabbers Dick, Dale, Ray and Larry show off a pot containing 24 legal crab.

Weather permitting, many local recreational folks have been dropping crab pots and rings in front of Sand Island, in Baker Bay and around the corner of A Jetty. The catches have been good although the legal crabs are a bit light on meat content for cannery guidelines. Consequently, local commercial crab boats may be delayed in their traditional opener of Dec. 1.

This time of the year, waters around the corner of A Jetty can be extremely dangerous. You get a good indication of what to expect around marker No. 7 in the Ilwaco channel. If you have a couple-foot lump in that area, look across to the Oregon side for breaking "rollers." If those conditions exist, it may not be wise to turn the corner at Buoy 11 off the tip of A Jetty. We went out there to have a look in a 50-foot boat about a week and a half ago and there were 15-foot breakers all through the North Jetty, the beach and A Jetty. We made a hasty retreat. It is also responsible to wear lifejackets aboard while in that area, because a "sneaker" wave is possible at any time.

Dungeness crab mate from spring through the fall. Male crabs mate only with female crabs that have shed their old shells. Fertilization does not occur at the time of mating. The female crab stores her eggs until they are fully developed. The eggs are fertilized when the female extrudes them under her abdomen, where they stay until hatching. A large female crab can carry 2.5 million eggs.

Cooking crab - Dungeness crab are usually boiled for about 20 minutes. As a cautionary note, paralytic poisoning has been found in the internal organs of Dungeness crab, so don't eat the organs and "crab butter." Where and when the toxin is found is unpredictable. Take this one precaution and enjoy one of our tastiest seafoods.

If you think you and a small group of your friends would like to go crabbing locally on a big boat, call me at 665-3573 for more information.

Traditions of Naval ServiceHead (ship's toilet) - The use of the term "head' to refer to a ship's toilet dates to at least as early as 1708, when Woods Rogers used the term in his book, "A Cruising Voyage around the World." Another early usage is in Tobias Smollett's novel of travel, "Roderick Random," published in 1748.

"Head," in a nautical sense referring to the bow or fore part of a ship, dates to 1485. The ship's toilet was typically placed at the head of the ship near the base of the bowsprit, where splashing water served to naturally clean the toilet area.

Ron Malast of owner/operator of the charter boat Big Dipper operating out of Pacific Salmon Charters in Ilwaco.

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