Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Crews rushing to haul in pots before a storm

Snow crabs? Nope - just Dungeness in weird weather.

Crab fishermen and dock workers got a taste of snowflakes as Dungeness-filled pots started coming into a slushy harbor Sunday morning.

Commercial crab fishermen are accustomed to working in the wet, so maybe it's only appropriate to have snow on the sea to start the season - plus big storms in the forecast.

California coastal waters north of Point Arena will experience gale

force winds starting this evening with storm-force winds expected from

Point St. George northward, according to the National Weather Service.

Conditions will start to die down Wednesday, but the seas will remain

high into the weekend.

"That's going to shut us down," DJ Colbertson, a fisherman on the 28-foot crab vessel Boxcars, said Tuesday.

On the bright side, the catch looks good. Although it was

Colbertson's first year crabbing, he has heard this year's catch looks

better than in recent years and the record-high $3 per pound opening

price "makes it even sweeter," he said.

Kevin Wilson, a manager for Nor Cal Seafood in Crescent City, said

the catch has been great so far. Wilson unloaded a boat that hauled in

$60,000 worth of Dungeness on Sunday. Although some of the barely

legal-sized crabs were a little soft, Wilson said the medium and

large-sized crabs were "great."

The healthy, meaty crabs come as a relief after the local commercial

season was delayed six weeks - the longest in decades - due to early

tests showing low meat mass.

The shorter 36-hour pre-soak (the time when fishermen can lay their

pots but before they can legally pull them) that comes with delays makes

for a busier start to the season. Deckhands and dock hands "could use a

break," Wilson said.

On Monday, Wilson was unloading crabs that were headed "straight to

Canada," he said, but Alber Seafood will be selling local live and

cooked crabs, and Ray's Food Place should have North Coast crabs within a


Live crabs can sometimes also be purchased from captains coming in with fresh catch if you ask, Wilson said.

"The cooked market, which is the primary market for Dungeness crabs,

will require the highest sales prices in history to be profitable (for

retailers) with a $3 boat price," said Rick Harris, plant manager for

Pacific Choice Seafood in Eureka, in an email to the Triplicate.

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