SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The docks at Fisherman’s Wharf have been filled with the sound of crab fishermen prepping their boats for what many hope will be a season that finally puts them back in the black.

There should be plenty of crab out there, state biologists said, especially along the central coast. Tim Calvert said he’ll be watching the catch from the sport fishers who go out for the first time on Saturday.

“Reports are mixed. Out in the deep, there’s no crabs, they say,” he said.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Calvert’s 36-footer, the Sandra Dee, can carry about 70 traps. When the commercial season opens Nov. 15, he’ll have to work hard to compete with massive boats from the North Coast that carry 800 or 900 traps.

“They come in, I mean, it could be over within three days,” he said. “You’ll start out with 20 crabs a trap, then next day you go out, there’s seven, eight.”

Then the catch dwindles to three or four. A week later, it’s down to just one or two.

“And then there’s none. Then you’re scratching, waiting a week to get one or two crabs in,” Calvert said, taking down the salmon gear to make room for crab pots that will soon fill the Sandra Dee’s deck.

Calvert has fished San Francisco Bay for 40 years. Even though 2010 saw a record crab harvest, the years since the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill have been tough. For a while, there was no salmon fishing, and when it did resume the catch was lackluster.

“I had to go two years without half of my income,” Calvert said. “I’m definitely digging out of a hole.”

And even if the numbers are there this year, quality could be an issue.

“If they’re soft, we’re going to have a problem,” he said. “The meat’s not filled out in them yet.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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