Aaron Orsini is a second-generation Bodega Bay charter boat captain. His parents moved to town in 1989, shortly before he was born, and there he stayed. “I was born into it. I grew up on the charter boat dock here in Bodega Bay,” he says. Today, he serves as captain of the 23-foot Ghost for SVA Marine Charters, backed by his father, Vince, and his uncle Alex, as another crab season begins.
The Season Opens
The first Saturday of November is the opener for sport crab season. Our most popular trip is a combination of crabbing and fishing for rockfish and lingcod. For November and December, I am booked almost every single day. Bodega Bay is really blessed in that a lot of our sport boats keep producing throughout the season. Our guides really work extra hard, and we generally do get limits of crab [10 per person].
Covid has limited the number of people we can have on board. Most of the sixpacks— the smaller boats like mine—have gone from six to four people. We do encourage masks on the boat, and we have a discussion every morning about it. People have been very good about being conscientious and recognizing that this is a threat while trying to have a good time. But I don’t want to undersell the fact that a lot of charter boats have really suffered, especially with closures earlier this year. In more heavily populated places along the coast, a lot of guys have lost a significant portion of their revenue.
A Classic Trip
We meet at the dock around sunrise and get everyone oriented on the boat. We start heading up the coast, past the Russian River, past Jenner, past Russian Gulch. We’ll tuck in and fish, ducking from rock to rock, trying to figure out the fish throughout the day. On the way back home, we come in around the Russian River and pull crab traps. After we’re done throwing all the traps back with fresh bait, we head back to the dock, where we take photos, clean the fish, and steam the crabs. I send everybody home with a nice batch of crabs and a big bag of filleted fish.