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Crab Snaring by the Golden Gate Bridge

Article and photos by Jerry Back
03/25/16 -- With the commercial crab season about to begin on Saturday, the 25th of March, I wanted to hit the beach one more time as a recreational crabber. I don't think we really compete with each other--if we did, the boats and their thousands of crab pots would win hands down. With striped bass season hopefully around the corner, I needed one more crab snaring fix.
Baker Beach, California by Jerry Back
Looking out to Baker Beach

A lot of crab snaring activity in San Francisco area happens on or around Baker Beach. It's expansive and doesn't have a lot of underwater rocks upon which to snag your line. Today, however, I wanted to return to a personal favorite location just a little bit north of Baker Beach.

Ocean view of Golden Gate bridge, by Jerry back
Where I'm heading today

This particular beach is even closer to the esteemed Golden Gate Bridge than Baker Beach. Getting there, however, is not for everybody. First, there's a 25 minute hike down some precarious paths, through some overgrown trails, down uneven stairs and across some muddy trickles of wannabe streams. In short, it's not easy getting your stuff down to the beach and even harder hiking back up to the cliff side road where you parked your car.

Golden Gate bridge, Jerry Back, photo by Jerry Back
The Golden Gate Bridge - You may have heard of it

I hesitate to type the beach’s name because it's not easily accessible, and, as you'll soon read, not the easiest place to throw out a crab snare. Still, if you send me an email (at bottom of this report), I'll be happy to provide.

Beach sand washed away near Golden Gate Bridge, by Jerry back
El Niño storms have washed away much of the sand here

I hadn't been back to this beach since last spring and boy did the recent El Niño storms do a number here! What used to be a long stretch of sandy beach was now mostly large rocks that had been uncovered by a relentless pounding of the ocean’s fury. Detritus such as driftwood was everywhere and as was a large, unmoored buoy.

Baker Beach San Francisco, by Jerry Back
Less sand but still less people than Baker Beach

Part of the appeal here, though, is this beach’s relative remoteness. There are far fewer people. Perhaps one or two people per hour would walk by me. I like that. People that do make the effort to get down all the way to this beach appreciate its special solace and I do, too.

Ocean view from Pt. Bonita Lighthouse, by Jerry Back
Looking west to the Pt. Bonita Lighthouse

Like most places in San Francisco, the views tend to be spectacular. Looking west, I see Point Bonita Lighthouse and its mini-suspension bridge (a somewhat white-colored replica of its nearby larger golden-colored cousin). The waves are approximately 3 to 5 feet at 10 AM this morning, but would get larger as the day progressed.

Jerry Back with Golden Gate Bridge in background, by Jerry Back
Photobombing the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge

I found my regular spot on the beach, but there was hardly enough sand to insert my sand spike. I kept hitting rock after rock. Because the tide was halfway already coming in, I was pushed back against some huge rocks. I finally found spots for the sand spikes, but I'd eventually pulled them out lest they tip over with the rising tide.

Crab from San Francisco waters, by Jerry Back
First crab was named Lefty - Guess why

Well, in went my two crab snares. After about five minutes, I pulled out my first crab. Dang, too short. Toss it back and toss out the snare again. I check the second rod and--bam--another crab. Again, though, a shorty. Was today going to be a bust?

Dungeness Crab by Jerry Back
Massive Dungeness crab attacks Golden Gate Bridge

No, because I'd soon pull in two keeper-sized crabs and eventually two more--all over about 3.5 hours of time. In all, I pulled in my crab snares 12 times and there were eight crabs. Four were tossed back--their only crime was being under the 5.75 inch requirement. Four were over 5.75 inches and were kept.

Golden Gate Bridge, by Jerry Back
It Sometimes gets a bit cheeky on this Beach

Oh, I forgot to mention. This is a clothing-optional beach. The occasional naturist may be spotted, though, they mostly stay discreet and are sunbathing behind some large rocks or Gilligan Island-fashioned blind made out of driftwood and small rocks. Almost 100% men, as well, on this beach from what I've observed over the past few years. Just FYI, you'll find more gender parity among this group on the northernmost side of Baker Beach.

 Hamburg Süd Making Its Pass Under the Bridge, by Jerry Back
Hamburg Süd making its pass under the bridge

You'll occasionally see some of the world’s largest container ships pass by not far from this beach. The Hamburg Süd has its own Wikipedia entry and many other sites associated with it. I plan to learn more about it and maybe even email this photo to them. I'd think they'd like it.

Jerry Back with 2 Dungeness Crab, photo by Jerry Back
Two in bucket and two in hand

Whenever someone walks by that I deem pretty friendly, I ask them to take my photo for posterity. This chap hailed from the state of Washington and as a fly fisherman, himself, he had a keen interest in crab snaring. I let him know that these crabs were named after Port Dungeness, Washington, so he should figure out crab snaring when he gets back home.

4 Dungeness Crab, by Jerry Back
Back home and soon to be eaten

So, here are my four crab. Not the biggest I've caught, but they weren't light in weight, either. We ate them for dinner already. I probably won't return to this beach until next season. Hopefully, by then, it will have gotten back some of its sand. We shall see. Finally, if you’re new to crab snaring or it seems interesting to you, be sure to click on the below tutorial link.

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. An archive of his recent articles published on can be found here.

Fishing Reports

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On Patrol by Steven T. Callan
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Brownie’s Choice
Art work by Isabella Langaman
By Don Webster
Disregard the story’s title. I don’t really have a “first” name. If I did, it would probably be something like Leviathan or Behemoth or maybe Lunker. Officially, I’m a trout. A brown trout. A giant, brown trout. Possibly the biggest, fattest...Full Story
Keddie Ridge
Scouting Deerheart Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
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Let’s check out the Upper Sac
Lake Siskiyou with Mt. Shasta standing sentinel. photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil "Flip" Akers
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
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german brown trout in Modoc creek.
By Lea Huetteman
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Throw the kitchen sink at them
Indian Paintbrush is a favorite wildflower that carpets wilderness landscapes. Phil Flip Akers,
Article and photos by Phil Akers
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Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Woodley Island Marina, Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California
03/06/04 -- Humboldt Bay, a busy commercial harbor and home port to many charter and private offshore fishing boats, is also popular with shore-based anglers and small boaters seeking bottomfish, sharks, crabs and clams...Full Story
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
green sturgeon
By Erin Loury, FISHBIO
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
California Golden Trout, California Heritage Trout Challenge, Not Just Any Fish, Phil
By Phil "Flip" Akers
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story


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