Crab season off to a fine start

Despite the poor season openers Whidbey Island crabbers have experienced over the past few years, this year surprised quite a few of us.

Anglers throughout areas 8-1 and 8-2 have had no problems filling their boats with limits of some nice-sized Dungeness crab.

The first few days of reports indicated that the commercial fishermen left a few keepers for sportsmen. Crescent Harbor by far is the most popular area for local anglers and it is still putting out a good number of crabs even after the first two weeks of the season.

Whatever area you decide to try, be sure to move your gear around and find the crab. Once you have found them in a particular area, then concentrate your gear there.

It’s sort of akin to a mini version of Deadliest Catch out there and it can even be fun listening to Bon Jovi on your radio or humming “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” as you pull up pots full of Dungeness crab.

One other benefit to putting fresh crab on the table is this is a perfect time to get rid of all your freezer-burnt meat that has been kicking around since last fall and use some of it for bait.

I probably wouldn’t throw a big slab of prime rib in my bait container, but some of the other cheaper cuts of meats are perfect. Don’t worry if you do not have any frost-covered packages in your freezer because chicken thighs are cheap, too.

On to other news.

Salmon season in Area 7 is doing good as well. Despite low-return predictions, there seems to be quite a few fish out there chasing the bait balls as I reported in my last column.

Most fish are in the upper teens and there are even a few in the 20-pound range.

Lopez Flats, Thatcher Pass and Eagle Bluff have all been producing some nice fish.

I mentioned that I love to use spoons as my favorite bait. I also mentioned hoochies as well as cut plug herring, but most reports have fish being caught on hoochies. Green glow, splatter back and even purple haze have all reportedly produced fish.

The best times to go are around tide changes, especially those close to sunrise and sunset. I like to keep my gear in about 150 feet of water and keep the downriggers down where I am marking fish on the fish finder.

If you’re not marking fish but are marking bait, then keep your downrigger towards the bottom of the bait ball and vary it 10 feet or so if you are not getting anything to bite.

As the warm weather continues, expect the bite at local lakes to cool off. Trout will migrate towards the deeper water so if you are going to give the lakes a try, then concentrate on the deep holes.

The Cascade River has produced some numbers of Sockeye this year. This is definitely a tricky fishery and your best bet is with a spin and glow with a sand shrimp for bait.

The bite is going to be very subtle, but they are out there. Be sure to check the regulations for boundaries and season closures.

Until next time, have fun on the water and be safe. Send your reports, pictures or comments to me at

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