I like to take my Tolman Skiff Jumbo out the Golden Gate, drop my crab traps or pots in a 100 feet of Pacific Ocean, and let them soak for a while to give the bait a chance to entice a bunch of Dungeness crabs to belly up to the bait bar in my crab traps. Early in the season a two hour soak works just fine. Later in the season it’s just about essential to soak overnight since the number of crabs tends to go down. Around here the Dungeness crab season is typically open the first or second weekend of November until the end of May. This season changes so it’s always best to check your local or state regulations just to be sure. Rock and Red crab season is open year round here, and those crabs are pretty tasty too. We are limited to 10 Dungeness crabs that are 5 3/4″ or larger. Though it’s legal to keep the females it’s highly recommended that your release all female crabs unmolested so they can return to doing what that do best, and that’s reproducing. Last time I went out I caught about 65 legal Dungeness Male Crabs to One Legal sized Female Crab. That gives you an idea of how precious these critters are.

Up next is to rig up my best shrimp traps and connect them to my Protoco Crab Pots so I can fish both at the same time. I will be targeting Coon Stripe Shrimp also known as Coon Stripe Prawns or Dock Shrimp.

Dungeness Crab Trap by Protoco

I’m on season three of six Danielson Crab Traps, and they are showing their age, and I don’t get out that often to crab. I have broken pieces here and there where the plastic covering has gotten nicked, and they all seem a bit wobbly these days. I figure I can nurse them through another season, maybe two if my crew is gentle with them, and I quickly repair any nicks in the plastic. Danielson pots seem to work good for short soaks of a few hours, and I think they do fine for overnight. But longer than that they are known to “leak” crabs.

Last trip out the crew let the line knot up on one drop of the pot, and we lost it. I think the float is fifteen or so feet below the surface, and it’s proably gone forever. This fact and the fact that these pots are getting mighty long in the tooth, I’ve decided to slowly but surely replace them with much higher quality crab pots.

Today I took delivery of two of these pots. Both are made by Protoco, Inc, an Oregon company that specializes in Crab, Shrimp and Crawfish Traps and accessories, as well as other vinyl covered metal products for the automotive and exercise industry.
How to Rig a Crab Pot
I got two of Protoco’s Round Crab Traps, an Ultra Light Crabpot with 3 Tunnels, and an X-Large 4 Tunnel Crab pot. Both are extremely well made and feature Commercial Dark Blue Vinyl Coating, and Stainless steel webbing. They have easy access lids for baiting and retrieving the Claw wielding Crabs that are intent on doing some damage to your fingers. The lid is secured with a commercial trucking type bungie, which in turn is secured with Rotten Cotten (required by law) that will release if the pot is lost, thus insuring that crabs can escape. There are also, two round ports for access, a bait cage, and four entrances that have one way swinging gates. The frame of the pots are welded and are of solid steel. The pots look fantastically well made and sharp with their dark blue vinyl coating, and are sure to last a long time even with frequent fishing in the ocean.

I need to rig these crab traps, and will do so with a harness made from trucker’s 3/8″ rope, and I’ll rig up several 100 foot shots of leaded line, and an appropriate float. I also plan on rigging these crab pots with a piggy back Protoco Shrimp Trap zip tied on top. Folks around here are having excellent results and one fellow caught several limits of Dungeness crabs the crab traps, and 1,000 Coon Stripe Shrimp in the piggy back shrimp traps. I aim to do the same.

More to come!

I ordered a whole mess of boat building books back around the year 2000 after deciding that I wanted to build a boat to suit my tastes. I picked up a book on building aluminum boats, several on the subject of the stitch and glue method (tack and tape) of building and a few other general tomes on the subject. Hands down the one book that captivated my interest was the “boat building plans, in book form”:Renn Tolman’s, A Skiff For All Seasons.

After reading and re-reading the book over a period of a few weeks, I ordered Renn’s Wide Body Addendum and a while later the Jumbo Addendum. I now had three versions of the boat to contemplate building. I’ve bugged Renn and several other Tolman Skiff Builders for details and pictures of their home built Tolman Skiff masterpieces and now through their generosity you too can study these very interesting and aesthetically pleasing vessels to your hearts content.

A Tolman Skiff is a Stitch and Glue wooden boat. It is built using marine grade plywood, and is encapsulated with epoxy and fiberglass. It’s a tough boat that is a boat of Dory Heritage with a modified V type hull with a very pronounced flare. The hull has substantial reserve buoyancy and is very light for its size. It rides up and over rough seas and is a stable fishing platform and performs extremely well in big following seas that would cause much lesser boats to broach or swap ends. Commercial fishermen have used their Tolman Skiffs to treacherous Alaskan Waters and lived to fish another day. Even when severely damaged from hitting a buoy in open waters, as experienced recently in Homer, Alaska, a Tolman Skiff didn’t sink. Though two fishermen were thrown in the water, they were able to climb back on board and make it back to safety with a giant hole in the bow. They simply tied on a tarp to keep water from flooding in.

So you want to build a boat? Looked for free boat plans and didn’t find anything that floated your boat? Or perhaps you’ve purchased boat building plans that didn’t quite make sense, or perhaps no one had actually built one of these, including the designer. Well, you’d be wise to contact Renn Tolman and check out one of his books on the subject. Not only does he give you plans for three models of Tolman Skiffs, he also tells you how to use epoxy, and fiberglass, and lists all the materials and tools you’ll need to build a beautiful and extremely sea worthy skiff, at home in both the ocean, lakes and rivers.


A huge number of Tolman Skiff Standard, Tolman Skiff Widebody and Tolman Skiff Jumbo projects can be found at http://www.fishyfish.com.