I grew up in the Puget Sound area, and later, spent most of my life just minutes from the Pacific Ocean. My Northwest peers considered Dungeness crab to be the gold standard of all species of edible crab. When Dungeness crab wasn’t available, if nobody important was looking, we would sometimes substitute Alaska King crab but never Alaska Ophelia crab, or East Coast blue crab. Heaven forbids we should even contemplate canned crab from the Philippines or Indonesia.
Fresh, live or cooked, Dungeness isn’t readily available in the Islands, so over the years, my quest for the tasty critters has taken some odd twists and turns. Frozen Dungeness from Costco or Safeway was mushy and unappetizing. Not to be deterred, I, Mr. Big Shot Contractor, would occasionally order a couple of crabs flown here from San Francisco. I even went out into the Bearing sea with one of the ‘Dangerous Catch’ guys, threw the hook, reeled in a full crab pot of gigantic King crab and tossed one into a pot of boiling water at two a.m. I’m here to tell you, combined with a couple of bottles of Alaska Amber, that was as close to Crab Heaven as you are going to get.
My obsession was getting out of hand, and I knew I could not afford to keep doing this. When I was about to give up the chase, my grandson saved the day. He had stumbled onto the fact there was a species of crab here in the Islands that was both plentiful and delicious, MUD CRABS. I was a little skeptical, they didn’t sound very appetizing. I was between a rock and a hard spot, so I googled mud crabs and learned they were also known as ‘Samoan crab and there were those who contended it was even better than Dungeness.
We bought a box crab pot, two throw pots, bait bags, buckets, an aerator, a fishnet, and twenty feet of line and headed for the crab grounds at sunset. There was a large groove of Mango trees adjacent to the He’eia pier on the way up to the North Shore where the water was about thirty inches deep. We already ate the big claws, delicious!
We waded into the crystal clear water and scooped up a dozen small fish to use as bait and set out pots. Within an hour, we had two nice size Samoan crabs suitable for a late night snack, and yes, they were good. I am looking to joining my grandson’s next crabbing adventure.