Building your own crab pot is easily doable
Many anglers simply pay for a ride on a party boat out of ports up and down the coast, and many of those boats offer multiple fishing opportunities on the same ride.
One of the most common is that you go rock-cod fishing, and on the way back, the skipper will make a short detour to a line of crab pots that were set out earlier. When he knows he’s collected limits for everybody on board, the boat then returns to port. Each angler is usually rewarded with limits of rock cod and crab.
And then, there are anglers who prefer to do it themselves and take their own boats.
While most private boats don’t have the hydraulics to raise a heavy crab pot from the depths, they’ll place their pots in shallower areas, where they can more easily raise the pots manually. It’s a common sight, for example, to see parts of Bodega Bay and even the harbor with floats bobbing on the surface. That means there’s a pot below.
Some use the common ring unit. It’s effective, but if the crab gets bored or eats all of the bait, it sidles off.
Most effective is a “pot,” a wire box that crab can easily enter but can’t easily escape. These pots range easy-to-handle smaller units one person can toss overboard to large, heavy units that require hydraulic lifts.
If you want crab pots, you have two choices: Buy them or make them. The ring units are relatively inexpensive; the pots tend to be a tad pricey.
You can, however, cut that cost considerably by making your own. A homemade pot should last a good 10 years at the least.
You need materials that will make the pot heavy enough so it goes straight down without flipping and, once it’s on the bottom, stays stationary. Rebar is a good material for the frame. The rest of the cage can be covered in stainless steel wire.
You can make the trap any size. There are virtually no restrictions. The larger the unit, though, the heavier it’s going to be to carry and lift.
You’ll need an opening or two for the crab to enter. Look over a commercially produced trap. That opening has a way for the crab to enter but not exit.
Most important is that any pot — homemade or commercially produced — have two circular openings, generally on each side of the pot with dimensions of no less than 4¼ inches and no lower than five inches from the top of the pot. These openings will allow undersized crab to escape while the larger keeper crabs can’t.
With the new rules on crabbing, you must now check your pots every hour. If a warden sees pots he’s confirmed as being unchecked, he has the authority to confiscate them.
Cut your costs. Make your own pots and have fun catching bunches of crab.
Salmon: The San Francisco Bay Area Fleet has been finding excellent salmon trolling. Limits have been the rule. Most of the action has been by trolling. While there’s the occasional 20-pounder, most have been in the 8- to 10-pound range.
Salmon fishing has been hit and miss at Shelter Cove and Fort Bragg. Action has been good one day and nearly a scratch bite the next at Bodega Bay.
S.F. Bay: Pretty good action on halibut. While limits are rare, those riding party boats or drifting in their own boats are tagging at least a fish a round. A live, lip-hooked anchovy will be your best bet, but dragging a frozen anchovy with a hook in the lip and a trailer hook near the tail should work just as well. Don’t have a boat? Fish from the Berkeley Pier. Not only is a fishing license not required, but they’re also nailing halibut.
Sacramento-American Rivers: While stripers are still holding the attention of anglers from Rio Vista up to the confluence of the Feather and Sacramento rivers, some anglers are turning their attention to the fun-catching, hard-fighting poor-man’s tarpon — shad. It’s an extremely bony fish. Smoked, they’re wonderful. Pan-fry their roe and you’ll be in for a super special treat. Whatever you do with shad, keep or release, they’re a ball to catch on light tackle. If you’ve never tried it, give it a shot. It’s all shad-dart or shad-fly action, and when you have one on, you know it.
French Meadows Reservoir: Definitely one of my favorite Sierra lakes. With the lack of snow, the lake being wide open now is almost unheard of. Roads to the lake are clear. The campground operator is usually scrambling to get the campgrounds open for Memorial Day weekend, but it’s going to be operational by May 16. No word on what the current lake level is, but it won’t stay great for long with the lack of snow to feed it, as water is pumped from this lake to Hell Hole for release for downriver use. Nearby Hell Hole Reservoir is wide open and kicking out browns and mackinaw at the upper end of the lake. There isn’t much fishing pressure. Kokanee could kick off at any time.
Stumpy Meadows: The road is wide open from Georgetown to the lake with no restrictions, and the campgrounds are open. Boaters and shore casters are getting into their share of a rainbow bite.
Lake Oroville: The Feather River isn’t raging, white water. Though Oroville is just under 90 percent, it will drop quickly this summer. In the meantime, bass are in all phases of the spawn, so there is still some excellent fishing. Dart heads with plastics will get you slammed. The lake is well known for its Coho salmon, and trollers around the dam are getting well bit.
Lake Davis: Plenty of water right now for decent trolling. Stay in the top 8-12 feet around Honker Cove, and you’re going to get bit. Rainbows have been running to 18 inches and are hammering a variety of lures. Keep changing until you find what they’re looking for that day. If you see moving water entering the lake, concentrate in that area. Rainbows spawn in the spring, and some are still looking for a creek to get into for their spawning activity.
Contact George deVilbiss at GeorgesColumn@aol.com.