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Crab catch about average for Whidbey Island
Don Velasquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist from the Mill Creek office of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the 2009 Dungeness crab season has been about average for people in the Whidbey and Camano island area.
Velasquez said the WDFW has been getting reports from some people who haven’t been successful indicating that the tribal commercial fishermen have harvested all the crab.
This is particularly true from the Dugualla Bay area where it gets fished pretty heavily.
“We’ve been getting mixed reports and complaints that there aren’t any crab to be caught due to the heavy tribal commercial fishing,” he said.
On the other hand, Velasquez said, there are other people who have been getting crab.
Velasquez said overall the WDFW has been getting better reports from the areas further north around Padilla Bay in Area 7 than they have from the San Juan Islands.
As far as average catch per pot, Velasquez said the department has no real good information.
“What we have to do is wait for the catch report cards to come in and even then it is hard to determine because if people are unsuccessful, they won’t file a card,” he said.
During the first weekend of the season, several crabbers were having success at Cornet Bay.
Ryan Boersma and his friend, Joe Bucko, both from Marysville, were in early and had caught their limit.
“A lot of credit goes to the boat captain, Scott Boersma, my dad,” Ryan Boersma said.
Boersma and Bucko said they dropped the pots the previous evening and they were out on the water for less than two hours Saturday morning.
“We are going back out in a little while to help my mother and sister,” Boersma said.
Two other fishing buddies who had been out on the bay hadn’t met with much success.
“Where did all the crab go?” complained Jim Brody from Mesa, Ariz.
Brody described himself as a “Sandbird.”
“You know, the Snowbirds who leave from up here in the winter to escape the cold weather and head down south. Me, I’m a Sandbird and I leave the summer heat to come up here,” Brody said with a laugh.
Fishing buddy Jim Panknin from Anacortes said together they had caught five crab.
“We caught five and we are grateful,” he said.
Crabbing continues in areas 8-1 and 8-2 Wednesdays through Saturdays until Sept. 7, including the entire Labor Day weekend, when it will close for a catch count.
The crab count in areas 8-1 and 8-2 are combined, and the target is 350,000 pounds. Last year the harvest count in areas 8-1 and 8-2 was estimated at 504,000 pounds, and this was the reason for no fall season.
“Some people won’t say that 2009 will be an average season because of the heavy commercial fishing, but we got the same complaints last year,” Velasquez said.