Going to the Source: Crabbing on Shilshole Bay

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Our friend Schelleen Rathkopf shows Meilee how to throw a crab pot into the bay.

It’s important for kids to know how food gets to the table, so they don’t think that everything simply comes from the grocery store neatly packed in plastic. We regularly visit the farmers markets and we have herbs and lettuces growing in our yard so they get a sense of connection to farmers and produce. Some day, I’ll teach them about meat butchery – since we choose to eat meat, I believe we should understand the process and ramifications of doing so. But we need to work our way up to that. For now, seeing how a crab is caught has less potential to overwhelm.

Meilee and Shen mug for the camera with their friend Grace.
Meilee and Shen mug for the camera with their friend Grace.

Of course, learning doesn’t preclude fun. Our friend Schelleen Rathkopf, a high school classmate of my husband, let us tag along with her and her kids, Grace and Arden, to set a couple of crab pots. It was a chilly evening and the water was choppy, so we got the full Seattle effect. We boarded their motor boat and Schelleen zoomed off to her family’s favorite crabbing spot.

Arden watches as his father, Charley, sails in a regatta. (Charley is the one on the left in the background.)
Arden watches as his father, Charley, sails in a regatta. (Charley is the one on the left in the background.)

After dropping the crab pots, we went to watch Schelleen’s husband, Charley, compete in a regatta. It was great for our kids to be around Grace and Arden, who have grown up around sailing and who showed such confidence and facility moving around on the boat. I want my kids to learn to be comfortable on and in the water since we do live in the Puget Sound area.

We did catch some Dungeness, but they were all too small to keep. You can keep only the males and they have to have a width of at least 6.25 inches.

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You can keep only the male crab that are at least 6.25 inches across the widest part of the carapace or shell. Schelleen shows the underside of a female crab, which has a wide abdomen. Males have a narrow abdomen.

In the end, we didn’t have any keepers. But that’s ok. The more important takeaway from the experience was to see the crabbing process, learn a little bit about boating and, of course, have some fun.

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We got a little windblown, speeding across the bay.

 

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