Which will it be – claws or legs? It depends on the subject, I guess. But in this case, we are talking about crabs. Lots of them.
In Goodland it’s stone crab claws, but in Homer, Alaska, where I spend summers, it’s king crab legs, baby. Both are tough to catch, expensive and absolutely delicious. Do we dare compare?
The Kirk family settled in Goodland years ago and Kappy Kirk, the family matriarch, is still living. I am fortunate to know her son Captain Damas Kirk, a lifetime fisherman and stone crabber, and his wife Pat. She told me, “Damas named his 42 ft. boat Miss Kelly Ann after our daughter.” Pat went on to say, “Our stone crab season runs six months – October 15th to May 15th. We deploy traps on October 5 and harvest for the first time October 15th.”
Usually the Gulf of Mexico is relatively calm with 2 to 4 ft. waves, but Pat told me that stone crabbing is best just after a front passes through and the seas are stirred up. When I spoke to Damas, he explained the harvesting process: “We pull up the traps, carefullybreak a claw off, and put the crab back in its native area.It will regenerate the claw.” Amazing.
Now, what do we do about the Alaskan king crab fishing?
Captain Jonathon Hillstrand of the Time Bandit, is from Homer. Last summer, I boarded his boat and had a grand tour. I even sat in Jonathon’s new black leather helm chair. The 118 ft. long Time Bandit, which means “sea steals your time” was built by Jonathan’s dad who settled in Homer years ago. In 1991 Jonathan and his brothers bought it.
The king crab season lasts one or two months in the fall – much shorter than the stone crab season. Who could stand it any longer? The Bering Sea is a deadly challenge. These guys sometimes deal with 35–knot winds, rain, snow showers and 20 to 30-foot icy cold waves.
Deadliest Catch, anyone?
So now, you know a little more about how these critters are trapped and harvested. Aren’t we lucky to be able to feast on them when we feel like splurging? Eating either is so very decadent.
But can we really compare these claws and legs? I write. You decide.