View Full Version : Sand Dab question

10-02-2007, 02:16 PM
I was at Fort Point doing my usual pier fishing, and I was pulling up, left and right, what I thought were very undersized halibuts, but now seeing pictures of sand dabs, I'm starting to wonder if I was tossing them back for all the wrong reasons! >:( Anyone know of a page that might help me tell the difference between the two (other than size, obviously), or if anyone knowledgable on the matter might want to set me straight? That'd be cool. Thanks!

10-02-2007, 02:21 PM
Not sure about Ft. Point Pier, but I used to catch them off Warf #2 in Monterey when I was younger so I guess its definitely possible to get them off of a pier.

10-02-2007, 02:25 PM
how many did you get, how big were they. there are lots of sandab at fort baker and fort point in the winter, but it's kindda early.

10-02-2007, 02:35 PM
I think the midline might be the easiest way to look. I have been doing some digging to make sure I don't bring home a baby halibut because I plan on targeting these guys this winter.


The halibut midline has a high arch, and the dabs have a very straight midline.

10-02-2007, 02:38 PM
I could be wrong but isn't it true that halibut have sharp, long teeth and dabs don't?

10-05-2007, 09:07 AM
There are alot of sand dabs at Fort Point I used to catch them in the winter. The best way to tell the differance is the teeth halibut have them sand dabs dont.

10-05-2007, 10:38 AM
:) Check Sethonius's answer on how to ID dabs. The most reliable trait is the lateral line. In a dab, it's strait as a ruler. In a halibut, its highly arched over the pectoral fin. Don't forget to put all dabs ON ICE shortly after catching them. They are a particularly soft fleshed fish and spoil rapidly. Damn, are they ever good lightly fried in in butter!!!

10-05-2007, 11:46 AM
after you catch them, how do you prep them to cook? Clean them?

10-05-2007, 12:32 PM
And to cook them....
http://www.emerils.com/recipes/by_name/sand_dabs_meuniere.html - BAM!
Found this thread which has some more recipes...

10-05-2007, 02:09 PM
thanks man, will give it a shot.

10-05-2007, 11:07 PM
Sand dabs cooked in butter are the best-tasting fish ever! Saw some on a restaurant menu a week or so ago and it was just under $20! eek!

They also make excellent live bait! Everything seems to go for those.

10-05-2007, 11:18 PM
dip em in milk an roll then in corn flour wth some salt and paper. Fry them in some butter with a little lemon and you will think twice about using them for bait.

10-05-2007, 11:51 PM
used to order sand dabs at the Tadich Grill. Hodge would ask, "How'r the sand dabs?" Caen pointed out that Hodge was careful and told the waiter, "Not too much butter".

This is the old San Francisco way. Sand dabs are a San Francisco speciality. The Tadich Grill is the quintessential sand dab eatery.

If you find a deep sandy bottom drop many hooks with small pieces of squid on them. I can't believe that there is no limit and no closed season. I'm sure that will change soon.

10-06-2007, 12:40 AM
The good-sized dabs go in the ice chest and one or two of any little bitty ones that are caught go in the live well. They are so well-liked by other fish that it's getting so sometimes I have to reel them in fast or come up with just a few heads! I have seen big halibut and sharks follow them up to the surface.

Yeah, I too am amazed that there aren't 10,000 restrictions on dabs, but I fully expect it. Those things must cover the whole ocean floor, though, as even when I am not trying to catch them, they get hooked on my line. I also noticed they will hang out in rocky areas. I previously assumed they were only on sandy bottom areas. They're getting to be like fleas. Tasty fleas, though!

10-06-2007, 07:52 AM
With all this talk about these tasty creatures I think I'm going to do a dab trip this year - never have done one before.

Has anyone gone on one in the bay area, and if so when is the best time, and who runs a good trip? Maybe a 'dab and crab' trip is in order... 8-)

10-07-2007, 07:17 AM
;) Sand dabs don't migrate, so whenever the water is calm enough, out you go! In Monterey Bay, try off of the "slide" in 50 to 100 feet of water. Frankly, anyplace up or down the coast from this point should be good for dabs. Salmon in the morning, and dabs in the afternoon. What good eating that would be!!! Nothing but sand bottom in this area, so save the little ones for live bait on the Soquel Point rocks.

10-07-2007, 03:40 PM
by savana

yeah reelbigfish, I here sand dabs are really good eats off that peir!

bummer dude! :'( :'( :'(

10-07-2007, 10:18 PM
Dang! Thanks everyone! that's a lot of great info. So, yup, the dabs are there!

10-08-2007, 11:31 AM

Good to hear that the sandabs are in. Where were you fishing? The best places where I caught them are the left corner of the pier as you are walking in twords the pier. Also the little stretch (next to the corner) that faces twords the GG bridge. Were they biting good during the slack tide when you are able to lay your entire string on the bottom? Pretty fun where you can wait 5 minutess and pull up 2 or 3 per cast.

I guess it's time to bring the cooler w/ice and a large ziplock bag and pop those dabs right into the cooler. I hav'nt been at the Pier in over a month. I can see a dab fry in the future real soon. Along with a bucket of Red Crabs... Life is real good.

10-08-2007, 02:18 PM
I find it better if you let the dabs slime out leaving them on ice overnight, then hose of slime and clean, fillet the larger ones whole, one fillet for each side, or cut rays by pushing knife along ray bones and spinal bones, and fry meat come off spine and no fine bone at all. wish I could video a cleaning process, but??
best little fish in the bay!

10-08-2007, 07:09 PM
Funny you should mention a video, because I was just going to ask if you could make one! How the heck do you manage to fillet a sand dab? I caught a starry flounder once and filleted it, but it was fairly large compared to a dab. Maybe you are catching way bigger ones than I do. I am not even sure you can get them boned in a restaurant.

10-08-2007, 08:48 PM
Fish_R_Us, I was actually, for the first time, trying that spot where there's the little ledge on the right side, about halfway out of the pier. I had caught a ray from that spot and the little ledge gave me good leverage for the battle, so I thought I'd try it again. I was tossing our a sabiki rig, with tiny bits of squid tentickles on about 4 or five of the upper hooks, and was just slowly reeling it in from the cast as soon as it settled at the bottom. I couldn't really feel the bites or sets, but every cast I was pulling in one or two. A nice ending to an experiment, really. Now that I know they were dabs I can't wait to get out there again! I've got the no-fishing-blues hardcore!
Also, Cptdarel, how do you fillet them up? That's got to be tough :-?
Again, thanks for all the good info you guys!

10-09-2007, 07:17 AM
Funny you should mention a video, because I was just going to ask if you could make one! How the heck do you manage to fillet a sand dab? I caught a starry flounder once and filleted it, but it was fairly large compared to a dab. Maybe you are catching way bigger ones than I do. I am not even sure you can get them boned in a restaurant.

Well of corse you can, your right there in Moss Landing, go to Phil's and order a Dab dinner, all you get is Fillets and no bones, I use to sell my Dabs to Phil, he keep bugging me for more. Hold the dab Brown side up, knife behind head to bone and down the spine lay knife flat and slice to tail, one fillet per side, don't skin it. same with other side, the bottom will not give you the size as the top side but none the less a fillet, like I said WAIT till next day before you deslime and fillet, when you stack fillets with slime it goes south QUICK.

10-09-2007, 09:44 AM
That sorta sounds like how I fillet any fish...except I skin the others. Thanks for the tips. It's going to be a challenge for me, though....as even the ones I catch that I consider "big" look like they'd be difficult to fillet.

I am gonna give it a good try, though. Thanks again!

10-09-2007, 10:22 AM
If they are to small then you cut the ray bone off, a trick you have to see, you end up eating like a whole trout, the meat lifts off the spine bones and no little bones. if you catch and come to my slip a-13 if i'm there and I will show you.