Crabbing From the Kayak E-mail
Thursday, 08 October 2009 06:20

The apron was my design after I caught my first crabs and tried to sort them in the kayak. You should have had pictures of that.
I went to a local sail maker and told him what I wanted. I took my kayak with me and we designed from there. It took a couple of attempts, and finally got what I wanted. I call it a "Crab Apron"

One of the first times out testing the new crab apron, I was in Florence on the Siuslaw River in some heavy chop and a strong wind. I pulled up a pot and dumped the crabs in the apron. I must not have gotten them all in the deeper pocket, because a small Dungeness about the size of a baseball climbed up over the edge of the apron down onto my seat. Naturally not want to get bitten with the wrong place, I raised up and leaned to the left to reach under my but to find the crab when a gust of wind caught me on a wave and over I went. I came out to the surface from under the kayak with a smile because I realized I still had on my hat and sunglasses. (also my life vest) I was about 100 yards from shore in 54 degree water. Being an old Navy man this didn't concern me.

I tried to to turn the kayak over but it was full of water because I had the rear hatch open for storing the crab catch. Only the nose of the kayak was showing above the water.
There was a small fishing boat a few hundred yards away but because of the wind they couldn't hear me. I grabbed my paddle and the front handle of the kayak and began swimming on my back pulling the kayak with me. After I got to shore I had a great deal of difficulty pulling the kayak up on the sand so I had to start dog paddling the water out. It was too heavy to roll over. After I got enough water out I was able to roll the kayak over and drain the rest of the water. All of this activity kept me nice and warm and I was able to launch the kayak again and retrieve my two traps and get back to the RV Park I was staying at.

After taking an inventory of my gear, I found that I had lost only my crab gage at a cost of $1.50. All the rest of my gear is attached with clips and stayed with the kayak. That includes the fish finder, battery, crab tongs and bait box.

After the Siuslaw adventure I decided I needed a more stable platform to crab from. That's when I started to investigate outriggers. I looked at those you could buy and those that were otherwise.
It wasn't a matter of dollars but effectiveness and flexibility. The outriggers I could purchase could only be use in a single mode. The more I looked the more I knew I would have to build what I wanted for my needs. Sometimes when I'm crabbing in calmer water I only one outrigger on the right side , which is the side I pull up the traps.

I received my original startup on this project from one of the guys on the KFS forum. I looked at what he had done with the outriggers and took it from there. The major change I made was to use aluminum tubing instead of PVC. I found that the PVC used is typically used for buried irrigation systems and does not care about UV breakdown. Believe me UV really dislikes this type of PVC. I have a lot of experience attempting to use it in a home garden in California.

I also met a fellow that makes commercial Dungeness crab pots and had him make the same design for me in a 24" pot. The normal traps are 36" across and twice the height of mine. You couldn't pull one up in a kayak even with the outriggers. I have had as many as 23 crabs in a trap at one time, so what more do I need with a larger trap. The daily limit is 12 male keepers. I usually have my limit in about 2 hours. To date I have caught exactly 227 legal male Dungeness crabs from my kayak. My wife and I as well as our GOOD friends eat/enjoy a lot of crab.

I use a sit-in kayak because I need a place to dump the crabs, I know of a way I could accommodate sorting 20+ crabs in a sit-on-top. I also selected a kayak that was inexpensive because I knew I would want to do a lot of modifications, which I have done. I also am not concerned landing in rough rocks because I'm not in a beauty contest with my kayak.

My wife and I love to kayak and are out often all year round. Here in Portland Oregon with have easy access to major rivers as well at the ocean.
My motivation for crabbing comes from an ROI mentality that seems to run deep in my core. I always try to see if there is a way to make what I like to do "pay for itself" that way I don't feel remorse about any investments I make in equipment. The rough value of a Dungeness crab ranges between $4.00 and $5.00 dollars each. With 227 crabs, I'm almost close to a breakeven proposition and still going. When we are out in our RV I look for what ever the land or sea has to offer. I picked couple hundred of cactus pears Emma Wood State Park in Ventura Ca., that were just going to rot and made some to the best cactus jelly ever. As a Navy trained scuba diver, I have served up some of the best pink, white and green abalone to come out of the Channel Island waters off Santa Barbara Calif.

That's enough gabbing for now.

Regards,
Rob

 

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