Crabbing With Your Local Peers

golden gate bridge sausalito san francisco moore road pier
Golden Gate Bridge from the Ft Baker Pier (dungie being returned to the ocean)


This is going to be a compilation post of the last two crabbing trips I went on.  Both times we went out to the Fort Baker Pier to do some (successful!)  crabbing.  I fell behind on blogging again, so…its what ya’ll are getting.

crabbing ft baker pier sausalito at the base of the golden gate bridge
Brown rock crab on TOP of the trap!

First trip was Sunday, 2/21/2015.  Had just gotten some advice from PFIC in this thread.  Thanks to everyone in the thread for commenting, for once I did okay crabbing off the Moore Rd Pier!

We got there around 9:30/10am iirc.  Plan was to crab for 2-3 hours only and get out for some sunshine & views.  Before I forget, here’s the tide for the day:

2/21/2015 HMB Tide Table

Its for half moon bay, but the general high/low timing should be similar right?  Anywho, I hear moving tide is ideal for crabbing.  Haven’t been paying enough attention to know how that’s worked out for me so far.  Hopefully if I remember to screenshot the times, I’ll start building a record of how accurate that is for my trips.

Here’s the video of this trip too:

When we arrived there was only a few people about.  One pair, seemed like father & son, were fishing.  They’d already hauled in a bucket’o’smelt:

smelt bobber fishing at moore road pier sausalito, ca
Smelt caught from Fort Baker Pier

That was just the start!  They proceeded to catch a ton more over the next couple hours.  The dad was super nice, gave us some pointers on how to catch them.  Even offered us some of his bait!  Turned down his squid since we had some, but he handed us some mini shrimp to use:

Super awesome dude of manly win

If this is you, let me know!  Will totally get you some beer or food or something.  Your info was invaluable and made our trip like 10x as great!

Anyhow, he was telling us that pileworms were the best bait, but apparently most of the shops were all sold out of them around that time.  Another guy (also pretty nice, who showed up a little after us) was saying he had the same problem.  Couldn’t find any to buy!

Next best, he said, was shrimp since they were soft & easier to eat for the smelt than squid.  We tried the shrimp he gave us, but wound up losing a lot on the cast (too soft?  casting too hard?  no idea).  Squid worked for us, but we had to cut it into super small strips.  We were using size 10 or 12 sabikis.  Right so the rig!

smelt fishing fort baker pier golden gate bridge
smelt bobber rig

Bobber on top, then sabiki tied on below that, with a 3oz weight (tried 1oz, but doesn’t seem to create enough tension in the line to get the fish hooked).  Remember, if you’re using sabikis make sure you only have 5 hooks when you’re fishing the SF bay!

In the above pic, I actually had to tie a rig from scratch, so its really just a hi-lo rig with size 4 baitholders (I only bothered to tie 2).  Ran out of sabikis for the group, and the super awesome nice guy said they were 2-4ft down anyway.  All our fish this day came on the bottom 2 or 3 hooks.  Top hooks didn’t even get nibbles!

Anywho, we started casting and didn’t do so well at first.  A few of us split off to finish baiting/dropping in crab pots/hoops and some went to fish.  We saw the nice guy catching smelt, but we weren’t getting hits…

Until Theresa landed one!

smelt bobber fishing fort baker pier sausalito
1st smelt of the day

Apparently they had been nibbling the whole time!  After that we started catching them more regularly

bucket’o smelt

“Enough with the smelt already!” I’m sure you’re saying.  So with that, lets get back to the crabbing eh?  First pot came up with mostly dungies:

dungeness crabs from fort baker pier off Moore Road
dos dungeinos

Threw them back in after their photo op.  We went through a ton of dungies that day.  Like 3/4 of the catch were dungeness crabs.  Wonder if it was just because of the spots we were crabbing?  After these 2 trips I’ve found there are two spots in particular that produce more rock crab than any other I’ve tried/seen.

Anyhow, its important to stop now and point out that I zip tied some salmon balls (2.5lbs) to my hoops & traps.  Last time I was here I noticed 100% of my string was out, and that my line was tight.  Wasn’t a seal (though some people mentioned the seals stole whole traps recently as some people didn’t tie their traps off).  Suspected it was the current moving them and then the crabs couldn’t get a chance to get onto the traps.  This was confirmed in the PFIC thread linked earlier.

Bait was different combinations of chicken legs, frozen sardines, and squid.  Best bait of the day seemed to be the sardines.

Continued pulling pots, most of them having more dungies than rock crabs


In the end we did okay, went home with 4 rock crab (some brown and some red) and 8 smelt.


Nothing like the 20+ crabs/person others are managing, but hell, I’ll take 4 crabs over my usual skunk!

We put the catch towards our new years pot luck party the next day: (thanks for cooking the seafood Theresa!)

Some of the harvested crab meat, went towards crab cakes

rock crab fried rice

Fried smelt & last 2 crab cakes


Second trip was an overnight trip.  Just chillin’, crabbing & fishing, and snacking the night away with friends.  We headed out on Friday 3/5/2015 around 11pm (some were late).  Finally arrived at the pier around 12/12:30AM.  Surprisingly we were NOT the only ones out there!  When we pulled up there were 5 or 6 cars there already!

View was amazing though.  Who has a really good camera and wants to join in on our adventure times? d=

golden gate bridge at night north side sausalito moore road fort baker pier
Do this justice!

Someone else had just arrived at the same time we did.  No idea how well they did, didn’t have a chance to check with them before they left.  We were definitely the last ones gone around 4:30AM.  At that point the next group of people were starting to show up (early morning crabbers).

Unfortunately I don’t have any video of this trip.  I know from experience the GoPro doesn’t really work, even with a headlamp shining on things.  Still super sad about that one time I saw a ray that was 8-10ft wide come up and greet me out on the half moon bay jetties…  Ain’t even seen ones that big at aquariums.  IT WILL FOREVER BE MY NESSIE, blurry pics and all…

Anyhow…best way to get this back on track is probably:

rock crab crabbing report from fort baker pier
around 20 rock crab, browns and reds

For like 3 to 3.5 hours of crabbing, THATS NOT BAD EH?  I’ve never done so well in muh life!  20 red & brown rock crab, hellllll yes.

So here’s the tide:

3.5 – 3.6 2015 tides

Kara brought 4 hoops, and didn’t weight them at all.  They held ground no problem at all.  Wonder if that has to do with the tide, or if there being almost zero wind factored in at all.  Was amazing weather, only slightly chilly at the worst of times.  Full moon too!  Could not have asked for better conditions.  Clear skies, no wind, full moon, and temps not really that low.

As we unloaded and headed onto the pier we talked to a few people trying to find whoever owned the Acura (they left their lights on).  Took the opportunity to ask how people were doing at the same time.  One guy was there for maybe 1-2 hours and had 7 or 8 crab!  Big ones too!  Incredible.  One of the spots I now recognize as more productive.

He wound up leaving soon after we arrived, so I’m not sure if he caught many more, or just had enough and called it a night.  We went about setting up our 7 total pots/traps.  Don’t worry, there were 5 of us total.

For bait we were using sardines, chicken legs (boneless), and squid.  All traps got a little of each.   After the traps were set up I started rigging up poles with floats & sabikis for smelt (hey you never know right), until Kara interrupted me and said it’d be 20 minutes.  Generally want to check your hoops every 5-10min from what I’ve been told.  So we started checking all the hoops, and Kara pulled up a trap (I usually do 30 min soaks since I thought they needed the extra time) but nope.  That one came up soooo full:

huge epic rock crabs from ft baker pier
two 7″ red rock crabs from fort baker pier

Massive freakin’ rock crabs!  Never have I seen rock crabs so large.  We freaked out.  Couldn’t even fit my gauge over them:

giant rock crab fort baker pier biggest crabs

That pot & spot became the best spot all night.  Everytime we pulled it we got a few more.

Other pots also had a ton of crabs (but we were too busy measuring & rebaiting to take blurry night time pics) and we wound up with like 8 crabs in 20 minutes.  Crazy awesome start.

tons of rock crab crabbing ft baker pier best crabbing pier
Crab hoopage
rock crabs from moore road pier

Unfortunately 2 seals later showed up.  Yea, not 1, but TWO.  Don’t these furbags ever sleep?  Annooooyyyiinnggggggg.  They savaged Kara’s mesh hoops, so we had to tie crab snares on to put bait into.

Damn things nearly destroyed one of my METAL traps though:

crab hoop seal attack fail
crab trap carnage, sod off seals

Dented the shit out of the left side, and bent open the top/middle section… what the hell.  Something about this particular bait bag just seems to get their jollies off:

At some point I’m going to have to figure out how to fix that without making it worse @_@

Anyways we wound up running back and forth between traps constantly and it wasn’t until much later we really started fishing for smelt.  Wound up with only 6 of them, but that was fine considering we didn’t focus on them until the last 30 min or so

night smelt fishing fort baker pier
hooked the poor guy in the head

Either Sherrie or Theresa also caught this baby brown rock cod:

brown rock cod ft baker pier
baby brown rock cod

unfortunately when I went to throw it back in, I forgot to check if there were seals… so I threw it, looked over the edge, and watched it fall right into a seals open mouth.  I’m so sorry little rock cod! >.<

Anyhow, that was our night!  We packed up and headed off to get waffles…  We went to Mel’s on Mission in SF if I’m remembering right… though now that I think about it.  What the heck guys, WE WOUND UP ORDERING EVERYTHING BUT WAFFLES

mel's on mission
french toast
grilled cheese meat thing
Breakfast Sliders, no really “breakfast” is in the title of the dish

We headed home after the super filling meal

@ the first drop off, I turned around to find this:

rock crab from moore road pier
all 20 of the crab before we started splitting them up
what sherrie’s mom turned the crab into


So!  If you made it all the way down to here, thanks for reading!  As always, you can find more pics in the album for the trip here:

Until next time!


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