Back in the day, residents of Kachemak Bay pulled more than big flatfish and frisky salmon from the waters. Those who have lived on local shores for 30 years or so remember a day when it was possible to jig for crab, not to mention make a descent living from harvesting king and Tanner crabs.
Those memories — as well as a tank full of tiny juvenile crab courtesy of the Seward hatchery — are the subject of an exhibit currently on display at the Pratt Museum entitled “When Crab Was King.” A community conversation to be held Thursday night from 5-7 p.m. aims to haul in more stories yet.
Scott Bartlett, curator of exhibits for the museum, said the exhibit started with a collection of stories from the Kodiak Maritime Museum. The Pratt Museum added to that with local stories and artifacts, some from the museum’s collection and others from individuals Bartlett interviewed about the fishery.
One of those who shared local stories about crab fishing was Fred Elvsaas of Seldovia, who could remember jigging for crab by dragging hooks on the bottom of the Bay.
“The crabs would hang right onto it,” Bartlett said. “It was interesting to hear that there was subsistence fishing for crab – it didn’t just start with commercial fishing.”