_Recreational Crabbing | Englund Marine & Industrial Supply
Englund Marine & Industrial Supply is your one stop shop for crab gear!
Recreational crabbing is a fun and easy activity for all ages to learn and enjoy. From a boat or dock, you can catch Dungeness Crab or Rock Crab for most of the year in Washington, Oregon and California.
Regulations & Licensing
Before you head out, make sure you know what you need to legally crab in the state you are in. We've gathered the important information in one place so you can easily access it. Disclaimer: The following information is based off of the rules at the time of writing, regulations are subject to change. While we do our best to keep fully up to date, the license holder is ultimately responsible for being aware of any changes to the rules and regulations.
- Only male Dungeness Crab may be taken. Most locations in Oregon and California the legal minimum is 5-3/4", while most locations in Washington the minimum is 6" to be legally harvested. Check your local regulations as minimum size may vary.
- Both male and female Rock Crab may be taken. See minimum size requirements for individual states below.
- Washington, California and Oregon require recreational crabbers to clearly marked with the owner's information. See individual states for specific requirements.
Oregon Information (Click to expand):
- Oregon shellfish license required. Purchase an Oregon license online here.
- Englund Marine in-store licensing:
- Astoria: Yes
- Newport: Yes
- Charleston: None
- ODFW licensing information:
- Astoria: 503-325-2462
- Newport: 541-867-4741
- Charleston: 541-888-5515
- Learn about Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit information here.
- Daily Limits:
- Dungeness Crab: 12 Males, 5-3/4" minimum size.
- Red Rock Crab: 24 Of any size or sex.
- Bays, beaches, estuaries, tide pools, piers and jetties are open all year, 24 hours a day for Dungeness and Red Rock Crab.
- Crabbing in the ocean is CLOSED for Dungeness crab from Oct. 16 to Nov. 30.
- Floating buoys used for crab pots or rings must be marked in a visible, legible and permanent manner. Information must include the owners first and last name or business name, and at least one of the following: a) permanent address, b) phone number, c) ODFW ID number, or d) a vessel ID number. This rule does not apply when crabbing from a beach, jetty or pier.
- Click here for full Oregon shellfish regulations.
- Click here for full Marine Zone fishing information.
Washington Information (Click to expand):
- Saltwater fishing license required*.
- *Crabbing in the Puget Sound requires additional crab endorsement and catch report cards. Learn more here. Marine areas 1-3 and Marine Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line do not require these.
- Englund Marine in-store licensing:
- Westport: None
- Ilwaco: None
- WDFW licensing information by location
- Learn about Washington Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit information here.
- Daily Limits:
- Dungeness Crab - Columbia River: 12 Males, 5-3/4" minimum size in hardshell condition.
- Dungeness Crab - Pacific Ocean: 6 Males, 6" minimum size in hardshell condition.
- Red Rock Crab - All Areas: 6 Of either sex, 5" minimum size.
- Columbia River (East of a line from exposed end of north and south jetty upstream to a line between Tongue Point and Rocky Point): Open year-round to all gear for both Dungeness and Red Rock Crab.
- Pacific Ocean (Grays Harbor, and Marine Areas 1-3 and 4 west of Bonilla-Tatoosh line): Open Dec. 1st to Spet. 15th for pot gear, open year round to other gear for both Dungeness and Red Rock Crab.
- Pacific Ocean (Willapa Bay): Open Nov. 15th to Sept. 15th for pot gear, open year round to other gear for both Dungeness and Red Rock Crab.
- Every shellfish pot, ring net, or star trap left unattended in Washington waters must have its own buoy line and a separate buoy that is permanently and legibly marked with the operatorís first name, last name, and permanent address.
- All crab, shrimp, and crawfish pots must be equipped with a biodegradable device (rot/escape cord) and shall include one or more of the following: Securing the pot lid hook or tie down strap with a single loop of cord (untreated 100% cotton or other natural fiber no larger than thread size 120); or Sewing a 3" by 5" escape panel in the upper half of pot closed with cord; or Attaching the pot lid or one pot side (serving as a pot lid) with no more than three single loops of cord.
- Click here for full Washington crab regulations (pages 132-133).
- Click here for Dungeness Crab information.
California Information (Click to expand):
- Purchase your fishing license online.
- Englund Marine in-store licensing:
- Crescent City: Fresh and saltwater sport fishing license
- Eureka: None
- California licensing information by location
- Learn more about California Disability and low income fishing permit information here.
- Frequently asked questions about pier and shore-based sport fishing in California.
- Daily Limits:
- Dungeness Crab - Northern Area (Oregon border to Cape Mendocino) & Mendocino Area: 10 Males, 5-3/4" minimum size.
- Rock Crab (including rock crab, yellow crab and red crab) - All Areas: 35 Of either sex, 4" minimum size.
- Dungeness Crab - Northern Area (Oregon border to Cape Mendocino) & Mendocino Area: Open from November 2, 2019 through July 30, 2020.
- Rock Crab (including rock crab, yellow crab and red crab) - All Areas: Open Year-round.
- Every crab trap except those used under authority of subsection 29.85(a)(5) of these regulations shall be marked with a buoy. Each buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operatorís GO ID number.
- Crab traps shall contain at least one destruct device of a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed escape opening in the top or upper half of the trap of at least five inches in diameter when the destruct attachment material corrodes or fails.
- Crab traps shall have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than 4-1/4" inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five inches from the top of the trap.
- Click here for a full list of all current California Management Zone regulations.
- Learn about reducing whale and sea turtle entanglements with the 2019-2020 Best Practices Guide for Minimizes Marine Life Entanglement.
Get The Gear You Need
From crab pots and measuring devices to rot cord and crab floats Englund Marine has what you need to stay compliant with state regulations. We also have a great selection of rain gear and gloves to keep you warm and dry when on the water. Our stores and online shop even have a wide collection of cookbooks and kitchen items to cook your catch!
Crab Pots: Round or square traps with one or more openings that allow crab to enter but not leave. Pots are ideal for extended soak times since they hold the crabs until released and can be set prior to an offshore trip and picked up on the way in. If using pots in a current, it is recommended to add weight to prevent the trap from moving or getting tangled.
Crab Rings: Traps that lay flat until pulled up, when they make a basket type shape that holds the crabs. Ideal for shorter soak time or crabbing during slack tide when crab take their time around the bait. When crabbing with kids, crab rings are fun since they tend to be lighter than pots and usually produce quicker results. They also store flat when not in use and are easier to carry multiple traps at once.
Crab Rope: There are two types of crab rope to pick from: floating and sinking. Floating crab rope is ideal for crabbing off a dock, jetty or shore. Since it floats, it is less likely to get tangled in debris on the bottom. Sinking rope should be used when crabbing off a boat or in areas where it may become tangled in props.
Stay In Compliance: States have regulations for recreational crabbing, such as using a specific color of crab float, securing your crab pot lid with cord that breaks apart if your trap is lost and having a reliable measuring device.
Optional Equipment: Line haulers/pot pullers take the strain off your back by making pulling your crab pot up easier. These can be either manual or motorized. You can also use a davit with a pulley and mounting hardware. Proper gloves will help save your hands when hand-pulling your trap in and when handling live crab.
How To Crab
Now that you know all about the regulations, licensing and products, learn how to put that information to use for a productive day! Whether you are planning to drop pots on the way out to offshore fish, or spending a few hours on the docks, boat basin jetty, check out our run-down of crabbing how-to.
- You can use most types of meat to bait your trap or pot, but fresh is always the best. Securing your bait can be done with a bait jar, net, cage or bait pin, the goal is to keep the bait in your gear but still allow crabs to access it. We recommend securing it in some way to prevent seals and sea lions from stealing your bait.
- Dungeness Crab are scavengers and will eat pretty much anything, however, here are some popular baits to use:
- Pro tip: Seals and sea lions are not a fan of turkey or chicken
- Pro tip: Punch holes in seafood-based cat food cans
- Fish carcass (fresh is best)
- Chicken innards
- Secure your bait with a bait jar, cage, pin or bags.
Crab From A Boat:
- Setting Gear: Make sure your crab trap is secured to your buoy, we recommend using sinking crab rope for this. Set your gear outside of navigational channels and separate pots far enough from each other so you aren't competing with your own gear. Allow 30-45 min (or more) for pots and 10-20 for rings before retrieving. If crabbing in the Pacific or in high current areas, it is recommended to use 10-15 lb. weights to secure the pot.
- Retrieving Gear: Locate your buoy and approach along the side of your boat. Grab the line with your hand or gaff and pull in. Using a crab davit or pot/line puller will make this easier. If using crab rings, pull quickly at first to secure the catch in the basket that is formed when pulled.
Crab From A Dock, Jetty or Land:
- Setting Gear: Secure your crab line (we recommend using floating crab rope) to the dock or pier, then throw your crab pot or ring into the water. Allow 30-45 min for pots and 10-20 for rings before retrieving.
- Retrieving Gear: Grab the line, under where it has been secured, with your hand or gaff and pull in. If using crab rings, pull quickly at first to secure the catch in the basket that is formed when pulled.
Identifying & Measuring
- Identify Crab Species: Dungeness Crab: White-tipped claws, 10 carapace spines and is reddish-brown to purple in color. Red Rock Crabs: Black tipped claws with a wide "fan" shaped carapace. They are usually brick red in color. Rock Crabs also prefer high salinity waters and can typically be found in habitats such as rocks and pilings.
- Identify Sex Of Dungeness Crab: On the underside of the Dungeness Crab, check the abdominal flap: Males have a thin triangular flap, while females have a rounded, shorter flap. You can only legally harvest male Dungeness Crab.
- Measuring Your Crab: Using a crab gauge, measure in a straight line across the back, not including the spines. Dungeness Crab must be 5-3/4" or 6" depending on local regulations.
Keep & Store Your Catch
- What to keep: Check local regulations for legal crab size. Dungeness Crab must be 5-3/4" or 6" depending on location, Rock Crab minimums depend on location. Release "soft shell" crab: these crab are newly molted and meat pick can be very low and stringy.
- How to store your catch: Store your crabs in a cooler with ice/ice packs or in a bucket or cooler with saltwater. Change the water often to keep the water cool and oxygenated.
Sign up for our email list and get specials, announcements, class opportunities and more delivered directly to your inbox! Click here to be added to our email list or text EMIS1944 to 22828 to sign up.