The Sonoma County crab feed season is upon us! And although the news is filled with headline-grabbing warnings about crab season delays, do not despair. Our coast is split up into several different crab fishing areas and so although there have been delays farther north, due to under-developed crabs, there are still plenty of fresh crustaceans bellying up to the docks out in Bodega Bay.
During a recent stay at Dillon Beach, we scooted up the road to pick up fresh crab for our own do-it-ourselves crab feed. Wanting a bit of a snack before heading home with our crab, we made a beeline for Spud Point Crab Company, which has the best chowder on Bodega Bay. Trust me, all the seafood shops on the bay make great chowder, but there is something special about Spud Point’s. Unfortunately, everyone else seems to have figured this out too, and being that it was a Saturday, the line was far to long for us to wait around so we headed back to Fishetarian, which is one of several other spots on the bay that offer fresh seafood for dining in, as well as fresh cracked crab for take-out.
While waiting for our crab to be processed, we enjoyed some clam chowder, crab cakes, a tri-tip sandwich, a couple of fish tacos, and a pint or two of fresh local beer. The price for crab is always consistent around the bay so my suggestion is that you simply pick the shop that is most convenient for you. I highly recommend paying the extra dollar per pound to have them crack and clean the crab for you. If you are a veteran crab eater, you surely know how to do it yourself, but I will always pay the extra couple bucks to have the hard work done in advance of sitting down at the table.
Back at the beach house, we dined in front of a panoramic window, with views extending from Hog Island to the south, all the way up to the Bodega Headlands. One of our guests noticed a boat slowly roaming the waters in front of Dillon Beach and sure enough, a closer look through the binoculars revealed that it was a crabbing boat. It was almost like watching a live version of the Deadliest Catch, only on a smaller scale. The boat would move slowly towards the next float, at which point one of the hands would toss a hook, pull the float onboard and run the line through a mechanical wheel. Due to the shallow waters, mere moments later, the attached crab pot would clear the surface, filled with a healthy catch of crabs. Once emptied, the pot went over the side and the boat meandered towards the next float. There was something really special about getting to watch the actual process that in the end puts the very crab we were eating on our table.
Although I highly recommend holding at least one crab dinner yourself each year, I understand that many would rather leave the serving and clean-up to others. Thankfully, Petaluma is never shy of Crab Feed Fundraisers and although the first couple already occurred in December, the majority are set for January and February.
For those attending their first crab feed, here are a few simple rules. First off, unlike other parts of the Bay Area, our feeds are always “all-you-can-eat.” No one or two crab limits here, so bring your appetite.