Gone crabbing

Pulling in the crab pot

Lawson’s Landing could be one of the best-kept secrets on the North-Central California coast. This historic cattle ranch is known for its crabbing and clamming, although nearby Bodega Bay is a much more popular destination. Lawson’s Landing is located across Tomales Bay from Point Reyes at the sand bar, and provides boat launching via a sandy beach. Outdoorsmen setting out to navigate Tomales Bay and/or the Pacific Ocean must first decide if they are going to set aside their manliness and request a tractor-assisted boat launch on the soft sandy beach, or go it alone and risk the embarrassment of being stuck in the deep, soft sand for the ridicule of fishermen on the pier looking down from above. For the outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy their quiet time with the amenities of home, a small village of vacation cottages called Dillon Beach overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Lawson’s Landing. One of our staff realized the entertainment this hidden point had to offer for a fisheries biologist looking to enrich his family’s outdoors experience.

Our biologist admits: he had never gone crabbing, had never launched a boat on the sand, had never used crab pots, and had never navigated Tomales Bay (although he did observe various methods during previous trips to the area). And he had definitely never taken his family crabbing, including two small children – so he knew this would be an experience worth documenting. In this new video, we’ve captured our biologist’s family experience, knowing it’s something they would not want to forget, and will likely bring many laughs in the future. The video is full of tips for other first-time crabbers to make them feel a little more comfortable setting out on an adventure of their own (thanks to many hours of Google and YouTube searches, now backed up by first-hand experience!).

Surprisingly, the whole family loved the experience, kids included. Although it turned out the 9-year-old boy was a little panicked by creepy crawly things, he was just as interested and excited about the action as anybody else at Lawson’s Landing that weekend. Every trip out to set, check, or pull the crab traps felt like an adventure in itself. The family always had to be cognizant of the wind, as the conditions for small boats can rapidly deteriorate in Tomales Bay. On one trip back in from pulling the traps, the wind picked up and the water became choppy. But it was all part of the adventurous feeling of salt water spraying their faces, crab nets leaking bait juice all over the boat, and crabs crawling around their feet as the crustaceans escaped their nets. Needless to say, they were a sight to be seen back at the boat launch area! The final tally for the trip was five dungeness and nine rock crabs, more than enough for the family to eat. For kids who claimed they didn’t like to eat crab, they sure did love these crabs!

Cracking crabs