Crabfest: Northern California’s Kayak Fishing Season Opener

At Northern California's Crabfest, the guests of honor end their day in a sauna.

At Northern California’s Crabfest, the guests of honor end their day in a sauna. Photo courtesy Victor Woolworth, Crabfest.

Crabfest: Northern California's Kayak Fishing Season Opener

Doran Beach, California – Northern California's waters are chilly in January, but the crabs don't mind. At Crabfest, the largest (and maybe only) kayak crabbing contest in the world, they end their days in a pot of boiling water, the guests of honor at this annual party.

Dungeness crabs are the prized targets, but there are tasty rock crabs too, and they aren't too hard to hunt. Paddle out a baited crab trap, drop it and wait. First-time crabbers are welcome. But get the spot right. The crabs don't crawl just anywhere.

Take Cherie Sintes-Glover for example. She calls herself a "semi-beginner," but had little trouble catching a delectable crab dinner. Learning and then chowing down. Pass the butter.

"2014 offered a challenging Crabfest weekend. I’ve had great success in the past crabbing at Doran Beach and was happy to come out on top on tournament day," said Aaron Peters. His 6.6-inch Dungeness was the biggest of the princely crustaceans caught on the day.

"Crabfest is a great way to kick off the New Year with my NCKA family and meet new folks at one of the best potlucks ever," Peters added.

"Five star restaurants can't compete," Woolworth added.

This year's event was the best attended yet, with a raffle benefitting Diabetes Youth Families. The grand prize was a new Caribbean 14 fishing kayak donated by Eddyline and Headwaters Kayak Shop. "Despite there not being a great amount of Dungeness crab, there was no lack of good times," tournament organizer Victor Woolworth said.

"This event has been free since day one and it is all because of the great sponsors," Woolworth added. -KF

Crabfest is the largest (and maybe only) kayak crabbing contest in the world.

Crabfest is the largest (and maybe only) kayak crabbing contest in the world. Photo courtesy Victor Woolworth, Crabfest.