Welcome to Fisherman's Wharf by Karen Tregoning

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101 Views, 1 Feature and 1 Top Ten as at 27 November 2012.

Fisherman’s Wharf, which has been the home of San Francisco’s colorful fishing fleet for nearly a century and a quarter, is world famous for its wide variety of seafood. Much of this fame is due to the annual harvest of that most delectable of all crustaceans, the Dungeness crab of San Francisco.

The opening of crab season in November is a festive occasion. It is the day when the cauldrons along Fisherman’s Wharf are lighted, ready to receive the boxes piled high with Dungeness crab hoisted from the decks of the first boats that come chuffing back into port. It is a time for gourmet feasting that will last through many months to follow.

Traditionally, the opening of the crab season is preceded with a religious procession and a priestly blessing of the fleet. The boat decks are piled high with crab traps. The first day’s harvest is anxiously awaited as an indication of what the season will bring the crabbers as a reward for their hard work.

A century ago, crabs were in plentiful supply from the Straits of Carquinez on the inland reaches of San Francisco Bay to the sandy shorelines off Berkeley, Oakland and Alameda. Over the years, clams, the natural food of the crab, disappeared from the Bay. The best crab catches were then made just outside the Golden Gate. Today, the crabbers must drop their crab pots far out near the Farallon Islands in 18 to 35 fathoms of ocean water.

When the crabbers arrive at their fishing ground, their first chore is to set the crab traps, made of wire and about the size and shape of a tire. Inside each they place a bait jar and drop the weighted pot over the side. A small marker buoy painted with the owner’s colors and tethered to the trap floats to the surface. Each of the boats may drop up to 200 pots. By the time the last pots have been dropped, night has fallen. In the early dawn it is time to begin hauling in the traps. Only the largest crabs are selected. The smaller ones are returned to the water.

In the early days of the fishing fleet, the homes of the Italian fishermen boasted the areas finest cuisine. But, even before there were any sidewalks or restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf, some of the fishermen set up cauldrons of boiling water for cooking the freshly caught crabs, dispensinf them in paper cups as a crab cocktail to be enjoyed by visitors.

During the last quarter century, many restaurants have been established, with the traditional steaming crab cauldron in front of their place of business. Men in smocks attend the cauldrons, and still offer the visitors paper cups of fresh-cooked crab meat cocktails, or whole cooked crabs to take home.

Many of the dishes available at these restaurants are based on the seafood dishes which today’s fishermen’s parents, grandparents or great grandparents prepared in their native Italy, or in their San Francisco homes. It is dining such as to be found in no other place.


Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3


Top Tens:
Equal 1st – FOOD FOR THOUGHT – Outdoor Food Stalls Challenge – 14 May 2012.


fishermans wharf, san francisco, crab, crustacean, dungeness crab, dining, food, seafood


  • Ethna Gillespie
    Ethna Gillespieover 2 years ago

    Great shot and information! The guy looks amused.

  • Thank you. Maybe he was scared!!!!

    – Karen Tregoning

  • E.R. Bazor
    E.R. Bazorover 2 years ago

    Wonderful photo!
    Your hosts – E.R. and Linda J. Bazor (Feb 23rd, 2012)

  • Thank you so much for featuring my photo. Glad you like it!

    – Karen Tregoning

  • EdsMum
    EdsMumabout 2 years ago

    Wonderful sized crab a good meal for someone. If that is outdoors like most of Fisherman’s Wharf, it would go good in the Outdoor Food Stalls in Food for Thought*…Shirley

  • Thanks Shirley. I was looking for a photo to enter into that challenge – but didn’t even think of this one. Will pop it in there right now!!

    – Karen Tregoning

  • EdsMum
    EdsMumabout 2 years ago

    Tanks Karen. Shirley

  • EdsMum
    EdsMumabout 2 years ago

    Congratulations, co-winner, 14/5/2012..Shirley

  • Thanks Shirley!! My second win today – and my first two ever.

    – Karen Tregoning

  • EdsMum
    EdsMumabout 2 years ago

    Well done Karen, thought you would have had more than 2, so good luck for lots more. Shirley

  • Thanks Shirley!!!

    – Karen Tregoning

  • finepix
    finepixalmost 2 years ago

    Great image and drooling here now lol ;-x

  • Thanks David!! Yes, Fisherman’s Wharf is a great place to go if you like your seafood!! Wish I was there right now!!!

    – Karen Tregoning

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