Happy Thursday everyone!
The ocean has remained rough and tough lately with no opportunity to head out and catch fish. The surf has been dangerously high so that has made surf fishing a big no-go as well and all the rain has washed out the bay for a little while. But not all is bleak folks! The swells are coming down, the rains are subsiding, and good fishing is ahead.
Steelhead has been the thing to do lately and customers are reporting great scores with water levels just right on several of the systems. We will be hosting a late season steelhead clinic on Saturday, Feb. 11. This clinic will be at the Millicoma Hatchery and will start at 9 a.m. Bring your own gear or use ours. No fee and free food!
Now that commercial crabbing is in full gear we get to see cool things from the ocean depths that don’t usually cross our paths. One such critter is the box crab. The box crab exists in deeper water out to 400 to 600 feet in depth and are found from Alaska to San Diego, Calif. Box crabs prefer somewhat muddy bottoms or vertical rock faces above the muddy bottoms in which to reside. These strange looking crabs are sort of the “possums” of the sea and curl into a ball and attempt to hide rather than fight when attacked.
It is when these critters are in this defensive posture that the origin of their name becomes apparent and their box shape is formed. When the crab is tucked into this position they seal up so tightly that respiration is only possible due to water passing through two large holes in the front of the crab between segments of their claws. These claws are also well suited for dining on their favorite food, auger snails and clams. The box crab’s right claw has a hook used to dig out the snails and clams from the muddy bottom and crush them while the left claw is used with precision to pull out tiny bits of meat and pull it to their mouth.
The box crab has few known predators with the octopus being the only one worthy of note. Females molt and breed in mid-summer and will actually carry their young in the egg and larval stage for 18 months before releasing their spawn into the ocean. This release process can take over two months before it is completed. The box crab has no real commercial value as they are a very small incidental catch and we really only see them when our local Dungeness crabbers are running gear in extremely deep waters. Occasionally the Crab Shack in Charleston will have these odd looking crustaceans for sale during the winter and the meat is said to be sweeter than that of a Dungeness. Might be worth a try just to say you did.
Whether you are snacking on a box crab at the Charleston Crab Shack or coming to our steelhead clinic I hope to see you out there!
Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at (541) 888 3811, by Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles can be read in several newspapers up and down the coast. The Basin Tackle daily Outdoor Report is heard every morning and afternoon on several coastal and inland radio stations and his Basin Tackle Outdoor Show can be heard live every Wednesday at 3 P.M. on KWRO.com. In addition to all this he sometimes actually gets out and catches a fish or two.