View Full Version : Tomales Bay Crabs

02-05-2007, 04:44 PM
Hey folks. Saturday, Willbilly, I and a friend went crabbing at Tomales. It was a very nice, calm day and the crabbing was pretty good.


We dropped a couple traps inside the bay and then made my maiden voyage out to the outer bay. It was pretty calm until we got to the outside channel marker. We ran into some 5 footish swells and a little chop. The boat felt a bit sluggish though and I realized that we had 3 men, a full tank of gas, all our gear and a full ice chest and live well in my 16 foot boat. Just a wee bit overloaded for the conditions - so we headed back in. It was really exciting to actually drive my boat on the ocean though!

We dropped the rest of the traps and began our routine. We caught a few Dungies - all undersized though :(. We didn't hit on any really good spots, but had consistant pulls of rocks and reds all day. We kept all the big ones and came home with 2 limits. The pots ranneth over.


We had an excellent dinner. Thanks for taking the pics Wilson. You should get in some of them next time ;D. This was Wilson and Frankies first time crabbing and we had a lot of fun. Thanks for the good time friends.


02-05-2007, 06:15 PM
Hey Vito,

I think I saw you on Saturday out on Tomales. I was in a white HydraSport with a center console.

My buddy and I were also crabbing towards the mouth of Tomales. The only crabs we got from there were rocks also.
A great place to go for Dungeness is around channel marker #5, in about 38-42 feet of water. I've had a lot of luck there.

In regard to heading out through the mouth of Tomales to the ocean, I only try it when the high tide is on. More than one guy has ended up on the sand bar and sometimes even worst than that!

Glad to hear you had a great day out on the water!

In a few months the halibuts will be coming into Tomales, and thats when things reall start to get exciting there!

Tight lines!!

02-06-2007, 08:02 AM
Yeah I remember you. Looked like you guys were having a great time. I think I saw you doing some fishing as well. What were you fishing for? I marked quite a few large fish in the channel. I've fished for them in the past but never hooked up. I'm thinking rays and sharks. I've tried marker #5 in the past without much luck. I think it has to do with the time of year. I've limited on Dungies from the pier some years, and some years we cannot even find one inside the bay anywhere. We ran some test pots at different locations for nothing, so we figured we would just go over and target the rocks - so we would go home with some grub. I've been watching that sand bar move around for years now, and have been chomping at the bit to get out there. I have a 15 horse kicker and all the safety gear, so I figured I would give it a shot. I'm going to try it again next time I go, but I'll empty most of the weight out of the boat and only carry two people. Nice seeing you out there.

02-06-2007, 09:10 AM
Two limits of red and rock crabs :o 70 crab is alot of great eating enjoy ;D

02-06-2007, 03:32 PM

It was a good day to be out there.

We were drifting for halibuts, but didn't have any luck on the out going tide.

More than anything it was just great to be out on the water!

See you out there sometime.

02-06-2007, 04:40 PM
Cool! I went to Nick's Cove two weeks ago. There were white caps everywhere and the wind was blowing 25 knots. I didn't launch. I'll try again after the storms blow out this weekend.


1) Do you guys just eat the claws?
2) What do you do with the legs and body meat? (Make cioppino?)
3) How many crab traps did you use to get those two limits?
4) What did you do when not pulling up crab traps?

Thanks a lot for the info. I envy you guys. Nice day. I hope I get to meet you.

02-07-2007, 08:20 AM
I have 5 nets that are weighted with 6 lb weights. I have cages in them and usually just fill them with chicken. I did buy some squid this time though. I just stagger them out along the coast in about 10-15 feet of water. After I drop the last one I just cruise around for about 15 mins - have a smoke and talk, or beach it and have a wobbly. Then we go back and pull them up one at a time. I find that the rocks and reds don't need long soaks. I try to only keep the ones that are 6 inches or larger. The smaller ones aren't worth the trouble, unless you aren't catching many. I usually break off the claws and two largest legs - after cooking them. The rest of the crab I give to my neighbors or a friend. Someone always wants them. (cioppino is a good idea though - the thought has my mouth watering. Hope to meet you some time as well.

02-07-2007, 11:44 PM
Thanks Vito. I'm glad that you pointed out that you cooked the crabs before pulling off the claw and largest leg. I was telling a friend that almost all the meat on a rock crab is in the claw. He said that since crabs regenerate their claws I should just pull off the claws and throw them back to regenerate more. I don't think so.

I think I'll try flounder fishing in Tomales Bay while my two traps are soaking. Have you had any luck with that?

02-08-2007, 07:38 AM
That's not a good Idea, The F&G will give a ticket for Keeping only the claws. There is no way to measure to make sure it is of legal size.

02-08-2007, 02:47 PM
Don't know about getting cited for taking claws ! Couple of years ago at Doran I was crabbing the jetty , F&G came up to me and checked out my crabs and such . I was saying something about how little meat there was in these things - except for the claws , he suggested I just take the claws and put them on ice , also less to carry off the jetty . He did say it would be better to leave one claw so the crab can feed/defend itself although not against the law to take both . Maybe things have changed , anyone have F&G Code on this , saying its illegal ?

02-10-2007, 08:32 AM
No, I haven't tried for flounder or halis out there yet. I am planning on making some rock fish trips to the outer bay (estero areas) this year. I also will be learning how to drift for halis inside Tomales Bay and in Berkely too. As for the claw thing. I suppose that if you were going to throw out the bodies anyway, that pulling 1 claw off of each crab and letting them go would be a good idea. I don't know about the legality of it. They do regenerate pretty fast. I don't think that there is any problem with the populations though. Every time I go out there, there are tons of 'em around, and the bag limit is really high. I find that if you only keep the 6,7,8 inchers there is a more substantial amount of body meat. My neighbors and family members eat it up. Plus it seems kind of cruel just to tear an arm off :o.

02-10-2007, 11:54 PM
I agree. I don't like the idea of ripping off a claw and throwing them back. Cioppino it will be.

02-11-2007, 07:22 AM
Great crabbing discussion. Pulling off the claws and throwing them back seems a bit harsh! ;D the Cioppino is sounding good.

02-11-2007, 09:23 AM
If you want to fish the Esteros I think you would be better off launching at Doran. The south end of the bay (Bodega) is usually the first place the waves get big during the day and like Redwine mentioned, high tide is the only time you want to go through there which doesnít give you much of a window for getting back in. You could get stuck outside. The combination of those constantly shifting sand bars, low tide especially if itís still out-going and the afternoon swell and wind from the northwest is killer. Coming from the North to the Esteros is generally much safer and probably just about as fast as launching at Nicks.
Many years ago my brother had a very close call there as I watched helplessly from shore, when the motor died and had trouble getting it started very near the breakers, in fact he was in them when he finally got it started.
Many people do it but after hearing of many boaters including seasoned veterans dieing there over the years I made the personal choice to never go through there again except in an emergency. If Iím going to fish Tamales I launch in Tomales and outside I launch at Doran or West Side. Like I said itís a personal choice.
Tons of nice Red Crabs between the Esteros by the way. Also the Cabizone feed on them and there are some very nice ones to be had in that area sometimes.

02-11-2007, 10:20 AM
GCinGV is right. I was on my girlfriend's father's 20 foot boat once when we got hung up on the sand bar outside Tomales Bay. With waves breaking over the stern I got religion pretty fast. Luckily the tide was incoming and we got off the sand bar. We got lost in the fog without a GPS.

I got the blame for it because I mistook it for the entrance to Bodega Harbor. Kathryn's father and brother kept saying "You live here. Where are we?" Actually, that was my first and only time off Dillon Beach. He's the one who was too cheap to buy a GPS. For that matter, he cut corners on life jackets too.

Launch at Bodega. It's closer to the esteros, cheaper, and safer.

02-11-2007, 12:59 PM
All good advice and I will take you up on that some day. I have this kind of weird fixation with geting out there though. I think maybe after I have a done it a couple of times - it will wear off. I just love to camp at Lawson's, and the thought of leaving the campsite - getting in the boat and catching dinner, really gets me hyper. Here is my approach for next time. If I were to leave today - low tide is at 6:30 am. From then until about 2 pm would be the end of incoming/slack tide. At that point the tides would be heading back out. If I launched at 7am (sunup) and headed out with only 1 other person in the boat, 1/2 tank of fuel, anchor and 150 feet of rope, both engines running, life vests on, GPS waypoints set on the channel markers, and a fair weather report with no fog and 3 foot ish or less swells, I'm confident I could make it out and in no problem, as long as I was back in no later that 1:30pm. I would head over to the esteros and fish in 15-20 feet of water with the bow headed out to sea. One of us would always have our eye on the surf - where it is breaking and what is headed our way. When I made my way out last time the sand bar was clearly visible and had waves breaking off of it all day. The channel was wide and the shallowest point I marked was 25 feet. I figure that if I stay in the channel, and remain closest to the Point Reyes side, until I get out of the mouth, I'm golden. Once out of the mouth, I would just head towards the channel marker until I feel confident that I am out far enough, then head in towards the estero. This seems like the long way around, but it really should keep me away from that sand bar. Short of a double engine failure, I think this would work. If the engines did stall, I would immediately toss anchor - to ramain out of the breakers, until I could get the engine running. What do you think of this plan? Can anyone ad anything? Thanks! *

02-13-2007, 08:27 PM

03-03-2007, 02:43 PM
:D Well great to hear about Tomales I to will be takin a trip to Tomales bay in late March just might have to invest in some crab traps not to familar with the area have only made the trip down the hill once,but am looking foward to the trip.So if you have any pointers or tips regarding Tomales fishin/crabin I would really apprieciat it. :Dforesthill fishin