by M.L. Faunce
|As summer wanes, bigger crabs become more plentiful and cheaper.
Let the Good Times Flow
A terrific year for consumers in the crab game, where things can change on a dime
The best is yet to come, a chicken-necker from Pasadena commented the other day, apropos of life in general and crabbing specifically this summer 2005. Chicken-neckers are eternal optimists, riding the tide of rosy sunrises on weekend mornings, with bushels always half full, never half empty, at the happy conclusion of a day on the water. By mid-morning last Sunday, neighbor Jim had pulled in 48 crabs, enough to satisfy his crab-loving family.
Over on the Wye River where chicken-neckers convene for the big ones in fall, Barbara Schnaitman reports crabs are moving up the river, closer all the time to the dock at her boat-rental business. Crabbing is pretty good, she says. Its been a slow start, but now its gotten more normal, nothing earth shattering.
Those who have been around the water all their lives eschew superlatives. Town Point crabber Dave Watts remarks on the season this way: Been a little steadier than the last couple of years.
Amid eye-catching news a rare all-white albino blue crab caught near Odessa, Delaware; a startling two-gender crab caught in the southern Bay and now under study at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science both optimism and caution reign.
Harvey Linton, of Linton Seafood down in Crisfield, anticipates a slow-down but not for the same old reasons. When the kids go back to school, it affects business, he says. Everybodys got crabs now, and prices are slowing down, he explains, but people have other things on their mind besides crabs when the kids go back to school. This time of year, he looks to other areas, places like Philadelphia, to market.
Fairhaven crabber Steve Smith says its been a while since weve seen this volume. But memory fades, he admits, trying to flash back 20 or 30 years ago. Theres an expression: Things happen quick in the crab game, and things can change on a dime.
Mel Brennan of Prince Frederick says hes so busy selling crabs that he cant get out to run his trotline. Everybody knows you can get a good crab in fall, but were getting about the best summertime crab Ive ever seen, he reports. Weve got so many crabs now, I do whatever I can to sell crabs and keep boats working. He anticipates lots of good deals on September crabs. I expect to see No. 1 crabs for $10 a dozen later in the season, he says.
Bill Sieling, volunteer director of Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association, says this August is an interesting period. Were starting to get a lot of crabs, and the quality just keeps getting better and better. But, he adds, Everyone is saying the same thing. Its a terrific year for consumers, but the watermen are getting medium prices, and the retailers dont seem to lower their prices.
In an industry where crabs seem to run in three- or four-year cycles, maybe were in the first year of an upward swing, he says.
This Weeks Crab Source local crabs served to your the table
Skippers Pier, Deale
- Small-Medium Mixed Males: $34.95 the dozen
Stoneys Seafood House, Broomes Island
- No. 1 Males: $46 the dozen
- No. 2 Males: $32 the dozen
Cantlers Seafood Restaurant, Annapolis
- Large Males: $40 the dozen
- Medium Males: $25 the dozen