A City Girl Goes Crabbing
I’m admittedly a big city girl—Portland, San Francisco, New York—this is my wilderness. I do remember fondly summer trips to the coast, hiking Ecola State Park from Cannon Beach to Seaside, digging for razor clams at Yaquina Bay and visiting the sea lions at Cape Arago. And though I have dined on many-a-crab cake, I’ve never actually gone crabbing. That all changed this past weekend when a friend and I ventured down to Netarts Bay to join in Oregon’s crab harvest season.
Implicit with Oregon’s winter weather forecasts, we assumed rain, clouds and cold and dressed accordingly: Long Johns, waterproof pants, rain jackets and Wellies. But, as we meandered down the windy and picturesque U.S. Highway 6, rays of sunlight and blue sky peaked through the towering Spruce and Douglas-fir trees, foreshadowing of a rain-free afternoon.
We arrived at Netarts Marina and RV Park, located just six miles outside of Tillamook, just in time for a quick tutorial on crabbing. The thing about crabbing is that it’s actually really easy. You just need someone who can maneuver a small motorboat, a sturdy pair of rubber gloves, a tolerance for fish carcass (crab bait) and the zeal to wrangle a crab-filled net out of ice-cold water.
Glenda at the Netarts Marina helped us to purchase our shellfish licenses—a requirement for all fishing in Oregon, find more information here —and sent us on our way. Our rings were baited and ready for release, it was our job to drop them strategically in a crustacean-filled location. This proved harder than it looked. After pulling up a few empty nets it became apparent that I was no crab-whisperer and instead we took heed from the seasoned fisherman nearby and dropped our nets near theirs.
Thankfully, crabbers are a friendly bunch. Veteran fisherman and weekend warriors alike nodded and waved as they motored by and we exchanged status updates on the most recent catches (or lack thereof).
The relocation proved successful. Our nets started to fill with Dungeness and Red Rock Crab, angry and pinching at every finger they could grab. Three hours went by in no time and though we returned to the dock with only two Red Rock Crabs to take home, we felt accomplished. The Netarts Marina cleaned and cooked our crabs (though there is the option to take them home alive) and we were city-bound. The day was a success, I’d like to think I’m now a city-girl who can crab. And, since I’ve already got my shellfish license for the year, I’m thinking Clamming is the next adventure. Stay tuned.
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