Tuesday, February 15, 2011
It's February 15 today, the official opening day of the Tanner Crab season here in Southeast. As you can see there are three boats tied up at the cold storage and another half dozen or more at the downtown float. I was both pleased and surprized when I looked out this morning and the boats were still tied up. I thought that I had missed my opportunity to get a few pictures of them. I spoke to one of the captains who said that the season had been delayed for forty-eight hours because of the weather. Apparently it's blowing pretty good in Lynn Canal. I can't recall Fish and Game delaying the season on account of weather before, but I don't stay on top of those things very well. I know that years ago when the halibut season was open to everyone and the season had been reduced to twenty-four hour openings, there were more than a few lives lost because of poor weather. I'm glad that they delayed this opening for a bit. When the wind blows the spray up onto the rigging of the boats, ice forms and any extra weight above the water line can make the boats unstable. Boats have sunk because of ice build up. I believe that baseball bats are standard equipment on crabbers for beating the ice off the rigging. It may not be the Bering Sea and this isn't The Deadliest Catch, but frigid temps and furious winds make it miserable and downright dangerous.You can almost count on the weather to take a turn for the worse right before the crab season opens. It could be sunny and fifty degrees on February 14, but then overnight an Arctic storm will blow in with howling winds and snow- it's uncanny. Most of the boats doing the crab fishing here are 58 foot limit seiners. I saw one or two large trollers geared up, but usually the bigger guys have the space for all the pots and can handle the weather. A couple of the smaller local boats used to go out and catch grey cod for hanging bait for the crabbers pots, but since Floyd Hunt passed away, I don't believe anyone else is doing it, but I could be wrong. For a few years I had a permit to longline for greycod. I never used it and finally let it elapse. I don't know why I thought I would ever have the intestinal fortitude to fish in the winter. I get cold if it drops below thirty. I should go south for the winter and fish for Grouper or some such thing. In any event, I wish these guys well. I figure if they have the courage to go out and face the elements they deserve all the success that comes their way.