Winter is in full swing and Southern Oregon has the rain and snow to prove it. Locally the rains have been greatly affecting the fishing and crabbing, with fresh water flooding the bay on a regular basis.
This has meant degraded crabbing and fishing. In fact, I personally haven’t done either in weeks and probably won’t for the foreseeable future. Huge amounts of fresh water combined with all the wind and the super high king tides we’ve been getting lately are also making things a bit on the high risk side. I’m just going to hunker down and stay warm for the next while.
Steelhead fishing has been just OK lately with some days better than others. When the conditions are just right it seems folk can catch some of these beautiful elusive fish but it’s by no means a great year for them, at least so far.
If you’re looking for a good guide to take you out, Indigenous Adventures out this way and Reelmellofishing out of Roseburg have been having successful trips with their clients. For something different, Winchester Bay Charters has been fishing for sturgeon on the Columbia. These are all reputable guides and good people, give ‘em a call.
I was going to talk about the dangers of our beaches this time of year, especially in light of this past week’s tragic loss of two children, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. As the father of two little girls roughly the same age as those that perished it just hurts too much. All I want to say is don’t be careful, careful isn’t enough; be paranoid, be afraid, fear that ocean because it wants to snatch you up and pull you into its icy grip.
Let’s switch gears and talk about pleasant things, like, oh, say Dungeness crab. It’s finally commercial crab season and while that ocean has been too rough for a lot of the fleet to get out, some of the bigger vessels have been able to bring in literally tons of crab! Most of our local seafood markets have been selling these tasty fresh crustaceans, so if you need a fix head on down this way and bring your taste buds with you.
The picture in this week’s column is of a couple crab cakes I cooked up the other night and there’s really not much to it. We’ll post it on the side for y’all.
Dungeness crab live to about a maximum of 10 years and take their first four years to reach sport and commercial harvest size.
Starting their lives in the winter as tiny larval Zoea, the Dungeness crab is at the mercy of tides and currents. They spend their early lives pelagically, suspended in the water and not venturing near bottom or shore. By the time these little fellas reach the next stage in their lives, the megalope stage, the spring ocean currents bring them in to nearshore areas, bays and estuaries where they play an important part in the food chain, and pretty close to the bottom of it at that.
These tiny Dungeness crab will fall prey to everything from whales to salmon.
If the Dungeness crab lives past this point they graduate to the juvenile stage of their lives and will remain juveniles until about their second birthday, living their day-to-day lives in shallow estuaries among eel grass and other structure. Often when I am out clamming I will uncover a young crab that quickly scurries away and buries himself back in the sand without wasting any time.
During this stage of life the Dungeness will molt up to six times a year to accommodate its rapid growth, slowing down to once a year after its second year of life. In its third year, the Dungeness crab is an adult and will make its home anywhere from the shallow estuaries of its youth to ocean depths of up to 2,000 feet. It’s somewhere in the middle where our commercial fleet is now out baiting and catching them.
Support our fishermen and our local seafood markets and make your way down to Charleston for the finest seafood anywhere.