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Moon Over My Crabbies

Article and photos by Jerry Back
02/22/16 -- With a late afternoon low tide, I thought I would try to build upon the fantastic start I had on President’s Day (when I caught 7 crab). My only concern with starting at 3 PM is the potential offshore wind, which if blowing hard enough causes the line to billow making it difficult to feel whether or not you have a crab on the snare. I also heard the parking lot at Baker Beach closes its gate around 7 PM, so I wouldn’t have a lot of time.

Crabbers and beachgoers sharing Baker Beach
Crabbers and beachgoers sharing Baker Beach

Of most concern was whether or not the same strong current that I experienced on President’s Day would be moving my crab snare underwater from left to right, never stopping long enough for a crab to hop on it. That was the case last Monday at nearby China Beach. Four ounces of weight did the job then, but after talking to a crabber on the beach, he told me he was using 7 ounces already and his snare was still drifting. My rod is rated for up to 8 ounces, so I felt it could handle the extra weight. I stuck a 3 ounce weight in addition to the 3 ounce weight already in the snare and left it at that.

A couple of crabbers on a beautiful Saturday
A couple of crabbers on a beautiful Saturday

I decided to throw out my crab snare a little to the left of where I was standing. Turns out, the strong current was still in place and my crab snare drifted across my point of view and in a few minutes it was well to my right. I walked down the beach to get my line perpendicular with myself and gently reeled in the slack. I could feel Mr. Crab (or would it be a Mrs.?) on top of my crab snare, so I pulled and started reeling in my first crab of the day. Turned out to be a larger keeper, too!

There goes the San Francisco sun, by Jerry Back
There goes the San Francisco sun

Well, normally I work two rods on a beach, but with this strong current, I was forced to just use one rod, cast out to my left, walk down the beach about 30 yards, and then reel in. Over three hours, I casted out approximately 18 times and pulled in crab on about 14 of those pulls. The number of keepers I had was four, but they were fine-looking specimens (all male on this trip) and were both meaty and feisty! A 1 to 3 keeper to shorty ratio isn’t that bad, in my opinion. Later in the season, after most of the keeper-sized crab have been taken, it often takes throwing back 9 shorties in order to get that one keeper!

Moon over my crabbies, Jerry Back
Moon over my crabbies
It seems like many of the beach crabbers prefer the central to the north side of Baker Beach--probably because it’s close to the parking lot where their cars are parked, but maybe they know something I don’t? Well, I think it pays to walk a little farther and I had the south side of Baker Beach all to myself until I was later joined by that same crabber who I mentioned earlier was using 7 ounces of weight. He said he saw me pulling in a decent amount of crab from my south beach location and didn’t want me to have all the fun.
Golden Gate Bridge at dusk, by Jerry Back
Golden Gate Bridge at dusk
Part of the fishing experience for me is making new acquaintances, sharing some knowledge and gaining some new tips, as well. Unfortunately for my new friend, the 7 ounces he was casting proved too much for his rod and it snapped! Ouch, but kudos to him, he walked back to his car, grabbed a sturdier rod, and soon got his crab snare back in the water. Tenacity is a virtue on the beach when there are hundreds of crab sitting just 50 feet off shore.
Bright moon over my crabbies, by Jerry Black
Bright moon over my crabbies
As the sun began to dip below the horizon, I was treated to a visual feast of colors across the sky. Our Golden Gate Bridge, looking always majestic (can there ever be a bad picture of her?), was to the East of me. Right behind me a bright moon was rising. It’s in a Waxing Gibbous phase, at 95% of a full moon, so it looked spectacular as it shone over homes that, according to Zillow, are each worth approximately 11 million dollars!
Four crab beauties ready for transport, by Jerry Back
Four crab beauties ready for transport
As the sun began to dip below the horizon, I was treated to a visual feast of colors across the sky. Our Golden Gate Bridge, looking always majestic (can there ever be a bad picture of her?), was to the East of me. Right behind me a bright moon was rising. It’s in a Waxing Gibbous phase, at 95% of a full moon, so it looked spectacular as it shone over homes that, according to Zillow, are each worth approximately 11 million dollars!
Jerry Back with two of his new friends, by Jerry Back
Jerry Back with two of his new friends
Before it got completely dark, I hurried back to my car with my bucket of four crab beauties. They’re currently chilling in a paper bag in the refrigerator, but will be consumed for tomorrow’s lunch. I hope to get out to a beach again soon, so expect another report in due time.

Jerry Back is a television research executive residing in San Francisco, California. Other outdoor interests include fishing for Striped Bass (a.k.a., “stripers”) and anything else he can catch on the beaches of San Francisco. Jerry can be contacted at

Jerry also wrote an article for MyOutdoor Buddy titled "How to Catch Dungeness Crab with Rod and Reel," which can be found here.

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german brown trout in Modoc creek.
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