Crabbing in Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Gearhart, Oregon
There is a small fee to harvest non-commercial shellfish and marine invertebrates; check the local bait and tackle shops or marinas for more information. Time of year: Fall is typically the best time to crab. Beginning in September, crabs will tend to be more “filled out”, meaning there is a higher percentage of quality meat. This is detected by the condition of the shell. Hard shelled crabs will contain 20-30% meat by weight, compared to soft shelled crabs which can be as low as 12%. At times after heavy rainfall and resulting freshets, crab tend to be less abundant in the bays.
Time of Day: “Slack tides” (the times of peak high or low tide) are the best times to crab. At slack tides, the most number of crabs are walking around foraging, since they are not getting pushed around by tidal exchange.
Legal Season: Crabbing is open in estuaries (i.e. bays), beaches, tide pools, piers, and jetties year round. Crabbing in the ocean is CLOSED for Dungeness crab from August 15 to November 30. It is always good practice to review shell fishing regulations before you head out crabbing. Check out the current regulations online or pick up a current Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation booklet at any ODFW office or sporting goods store.
When crabbing with rings, remember to retrieve at a consistent speed in order to keep the sides of the ring over the crabs so they’re retained within the ring. Store legal-sized (keeper) crabs in a cooler with ice or ice packs, or in a bucket or cooler with water. If you keep your crabs in bucket or cooler with water, make sure to change the water frequently to keep the water cool and oxygenated. And make sure the water is seawater – freshwater will kill crabs.