July 22, 2024

Bad Crab Vibes for Upcoming Season

2022 Chesapeake Baywide Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey has been tracking the crab count since 1990.

Message from the Cap’n is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website includes the Interpretive Buoy System that reports on water conditions throughout the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River. It is extraordinarily informative. You can use it to get a full sense of what’s going on in your portion of the watershed, day by day and year after year.

“Any harvester that did not have a good oyster season was either too old or lacked the drive to take advantage of the opportunity this past season.”

We just finished the best oyster season (October 2021 thru March 2022) in about 35 years in the Chesapeake Bay. Around 550,000 bushels of oysters were harvested with a dockside value of some $20 million. With the ripple effect throughout the economy this number compounds itself several times over. We also had a good spat catch over this period. Now we await whatever Mother Nature has in store for us to determine how the next season will go.

CHANGE OF SEASON: Spring rains have the salinity down to about 8 parts per thousand. You can learn about this, too, in the Interpretive Buoy System linked above.

Catfish have moved downstream during this time and threaten the crab population. And thus, the headline and topic watermen have lately been avoiding. Crabs.

A new reality is setting in with those in the Chesapeake Bay blue crab business. We generally start catching crabs when the water temperature reaches 50 to 52 degrees in early April. But not this year.

Here we sit on the last week of May with the water temperature at 74 degrees F. and salinity at roughly 8 parts per thousand. And yet:

“No pay-days have been reported so far in the lower Potomac.”

The choice of bait for the spring crab is razor clams. They cost about $85 a bag. Alewives, also known as menhaden or bunkers are about $30 per box and do not catch as good in the early season. That’s a lot of money out. And then there’s fuel.

The 2021-2022 winter crab survey has been released. It has been a guide for many years as to what the season might bring. Here is how LexLeader’s Morning Coffee found it last week reported by Patch.com, “The Maryland Department of Natural Resources released its 2022 Chesapeake Baywide Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey showing the lowest number of crabs ever recorded. Maryland has tracked the crab count since 1990.”

The direct link to the survey is above. I let it speak for itself. I cannot give voice to it.

The Cap’n

“But it looks like to me it’s all going to Hell in a hand basket.”

I’d rather provide a link to a post of a few years about with a few facts about the molting of the blue crab that you may have forgotten.

Till next time, remember “It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass It On.”

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake, keep in touch with Fins + Claws on Facebook . Catch up on Messages from the Cap’n Member Page. Please visit Cap’n Jack’s lore and share with your social media sites. Or reach him here: [email protected] or 240-434-1385.


One Response to “Bad Crab Vibes for Upcoming Season”
  1. JEFF medkeff says:

    Again this is not directed to the waterman who goes out every day to make a living you and I both know that the price for Crabs are outrageous when the retailers are the ones who are raising the prices that are outrageous

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