Morro Bay Crabbing Families Keep Dungeness on the Table
and in the Market all Season Long
Every year from mid-November to late spring eight Morro Bay fishing families
keep their traditions alive – here is a look one such family
Morro Bay, CA, Morro Bay
is a charming coastal destination on CA Highway 1 that honors its nautical heritage and multi-generational fishing community, a big part of the city’s economy. The well-received Morro Bay Maritime Museum
recently opened after 20 years of fundraising, and Morro Bay celebrates the fishing community each October with the 35-year-old Annual Harbor Festival. This time of year, it’s all about the crab. The main crab species caught off of California’s coast is Dungeness and the waters off of Morro bay offer enough crab to keep eight crabbing families busy throughout the season. This variety is found in the clean waters of Morro Bay from November through late spring, which means lots of fresh crab on the menu and in fish markets along the Embarcadero, making NOW the perfect time to crack those shells and dig in!
There are eight families in Morro Bay that depend on Dungeness crab to feed their family. One is the French family. They’ve been crabbing out of Morro Bay for three generations now. It all started with Al French, one of the pioneers for catching Rock crab in Morro Bay, which started in the 1950’s.
Today, Al’s sons, Jeff and John continue the family business. Under their dad’s watchful eye they learned the ropes while they fished their way through college. After graduating from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and University of California, Santa Barbara respectively, the brothers became commercial fishermen in Morro Bay. Jeff’s son Lorrin crabbed his way through an architecture degree, and is currently working as a deck hand in the family business. Both Lorrin and his cousin Ryan are in line to take over the business when that time comes, which seems like the most natural thing to happen.
Jeff’s wife Lori French helps with the business too, participating with a watchful eye as the director of the Pacific Coast Federated Fishermen’s Association, a statewide commercial fishing organization, and as the recent past president of Central Coast Women for Fisheries. While holding down the family avocado orchard, another commodity Morro Bay is known for, Lori writes about commercial fishing family life for the National Fishermen Magazine.
“Crabbers make the majority of their income between the opening of crab season on November 15 until the Chinese New Year in January,” says French. “It’s our family tradition to serve crab on Christmas. We make a spread out of some of the viscera with butter and garlic for chunks of bread.”
The French family has seen it all. They’ve crabbed the Morro Bay waters since the 1950s. Some years, their boat is pushed to capacity with Dungeness overflowing the holding tanks, and other years not so much. “Crabbing is physically demanding and in the beginning of the season sleep is a luxury,” French continued. “Still, in our family, my husband always finds his way home for Christmas Eve, even if it means both he and Lorrin spend Christmas Day asleep.”
Fresh Crab on the Menu in Morro Bay
Visitors will find plenty of great places to eat and drink
featuring local ocean-to-table cuisine like crab. Take the Great American Seafood Company
, for example. Voted best seafood in SLO County for 12 years in a row, the Great American Fish Company’s crab legs are so yummy, you’ll want to come back for more. Then there’s Rose’s Landing Bar & Grille
. This family friendly restaurant and sports bar sits directly on the Embarcadero. Enjoy the view while you crack open a crab leg. The Dutchman’s Seafood House
owns and operates their own dock ensuring the freshest crab and seafood. Enjoy fresh, local seafood along with burgers, steaks and amazing salads all prepared with seasonal ingredients from area farmers. Giovanni’s Fish Market
has been family owned and operated in Morro Bay for over 25 years and has a great reputation in the community. Choose from a wide variety of grilled and deep fried fish and shellfish, as well as award winning chowder, and Mexican seafood dishes, weekly specials and more. You can also purchase fresh Dungeness crab from Giovanni’s online, shipped anywhere in the world from this website
Wash down these healthy delicacies with a chilled glass of local craft beer, a locally sourced Paso Robles or Edna Valley wine or a steaming cup of coffee or tea. For more information on visiting Morro Bay, go to www.morrobay.org
About Morro Bay
A true gem, this seaside fishing village
with bustling waterfront offers a picture perfect getaway for travelers who seek food, wine and outdoor adventures found in a gorgeous natural setting. Located along coastal Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County just south of Big Sur, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Morro Bay offers year round activities in an unspoiled slice of California. Recently recognized in as her home in Finding Dory, Morro Bay was named as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, and outdoor activities are a way of life. From ocean-side golf, kayaking, sailing, hiking, fishing, surfing, biking, and bird watching, to kite flying, shopping, dining, wine bars, local craft brews and miles of unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone.
Sitting majestically between the beach and the harbor lays the iconic and historic landmark Morro Rock, welcoming travelers from miles away as they approach Morro Bay. Located just minutes from world-renowned Hearst Castle
, historic missions, breathtaking Montana de Oro State Park, and surrounded by vineyards from Paso Robles to Edna Valley, Morro Bay is a destination designed to fit any style and budget for families, couples or groups. Morro Bay also offers a myriad of year-round events
including food, wine and music festivals, art fairs and car shows unique to the town. For more travel information visit www.morrobay.org
or follow Morro Bay on its Facebook