Though salmon season wanes, crabbing lasts all winter.
The Juneau area's winter season for personal use red and blue king crab opens Oct. 1 and will end March 31. An emergency order could close the season earlier if the personal use allocation of 1,790 red and blue king crabs has been met prior to March 31.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Fisheries Biologist Al Tingley said crabbers should be aware that the summer season ends Sept. 30 and they must obtain a seasonal permit if they wish to crab this winter.
"You just have to have a different piece of paper the next day," he said.
Red and blue king crab harvest permits are available at the ADF&G office in Douglas or on the agency's Web site.
Tingley said crabbers should be aware that in the Juneau area, Section 11-A, the season daily bag and possession limit for personal use is one legal male crab per permit per day. The household limit is 20 king crab for the entire winter season.
"Generally people are catching red king crab around here. Blues like a little siltier water," said Tingley. "The blues tend to be a little bit smaller and just like a slightly different habitat."
Tingley didn't want to speculate on what areas around Juneau are most productive, but he said crabbers are more likely to be successful in areas with less traffic.
"The closer (the area) is to town the heavier use it gets," he said. "It would be nice to see people spread themselves out a little more."
Tingley said he believes there would be fewer gear problems if people would spread their crab pots farther from one another.
"There's always been a lot of complaints of people going through other peoples gear - of stolen gear, lost gear," he said. "When there's a problem with one pot it transfers to another."
Because many fishing boats are pulled from the water and winterized in the fall, it's mostly the die-hard crabbers who head out during the winter season, Tingley said.
"Fishing dies off really quick here this time of year and it picks up in the spring when divers go out and try to catch one or two of these things," he said. "During the holidays there's a lot of activities going on and they're just not out there facing the wind to haul pots."
Tingley said beginners trying to catch some crab this winter should get themselves some good oily bait and a mentor.
"Get yourself a good pot and find someone who's done it before who can lend you a hand," he said.
Bait can range as much as fishermen's personalities.
"I've heard of anything from bacon to chickens to fish carcasses being used," Tingley said.
"It's a fun fishery. Just go by the rules on the permit and you should be just fine," he said.
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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