Learn How to Crab on the Oregon Coast!

One of the most fun activities to do on the Oregon Coast is to go Crabbing. That delicious Dungeness crab that you get in a restaurant or grocery store at a premium is readily available for a fraction of the price. With a little more work or fun, depending on how you see it! For us, we love crabbing. Gathering our own food, being in control of the process (from catching and cooking), to the feeling of accomplishment.

If you are lucky enough to get a beautiful day on the Oregon Coast then it is great for the entire family. Including the dog!

Learning how to Crab on the Oregon Coast

This will be a complete guide on how to get started, the items you need, rules and regulations and tips and tricks to catching your first Dungeness Crab.

Must Have Items

These are 6 items that you need to go crabbing and a few that will make it a little more fun!

1.A license. For $30 you can get a year license if you are an Oregon resident, otherwise, out of state is $19 for 3 days.

2.A net or pod. Pods are more expensive and much bigger. We chose to get two nets, which cost us about $70 for both.

3.Crab Ruler. This is very important. There are regulations on how wide the crab needs to be and you need to determine if it is a male or female.

4.A bucket or cooler to hold your crab. I will go into this more below but do NOT put water in the bucket or container holding your crab.

5.Bait. Some people use raw fish guts and left overs, but we have done well with raw chicken legs.

6.Gloves. Some of the crabs can get feisty or just plane stuck in the netting and it is much easier to grab them when you have gloves on.

Optional items you need depending on how you crab. If you take out a boat, kayak or SUP you will need a bouy. Some people like waiters when they throw from the beach if it is raining or if they want to step out into the water and stay dry.

Things that you don’t need for crabbing but are good to bring are:

Chairs, drinks, sun screen, sun glasses, hat and snacks (although, both places that we crabbed at had restaurants nearby).

Let’s Go Crabbing!

This will be a complete guide from where to start to eating your fresh crab!

Where to Crab

Along the coast there are ample amounts of places to check out. You can crab in bays, tide pools, off piers and jetties year round, but from October 16-November 30 it is illegal to crab from the ocean.

Specific spots is the next question you will have. Google really is the best to give you a complete list but if this is your first time and you don’t have much time, then my first suggestion is Siletz Bay in Lincoln City and then Alsea Bay in Waldport. Siletz Bay will have you crabbing from the beach, while watching seals watch you. Alsea Bay is crabbing from a pier, so there isn’t as much room. Both allow crabbing from land and from a kayak, boat, or SUP.

Timing (month and tide) to Crab

The best time to crab is during months that end in R, but even with that, November and December are supposed to be the best but not the best for weather. I have come to learn that October is usually the best month on the coast. We have crabbed in May and July and have been successful with catching crab.

The tide is the biggest factor. The best time to go is high tide or just before high tide. You need to be there when the crab are trolling the bottom for food, hence the chicken.

Ways to go Crabbing

As I mentioned above, there are a couple ways to crab. Throw right from the pier or beach.

Or take a boat, SUP or kayak out and drop your pod. In this case you would also need to bring your bouy to remember where you dropped! I wouldn’t use nets if you are dropping out where you cannot reach.

Once you get all your gear set up and made it to your spot there is some etiquette in finding your location.

*Do not set up in between other peoples nets. On the beach there are sticks that mark people’s nets and on piers they have their own markers, usually rope tied to the pier.

*Do not set up too close out the outside that your lines will cross.

Other than that find your spot and get ready to throw out your nets or pod! When you throw out your pod you can usually keep it in longer than a net because of the size. So a lot of people prefer the fast pace of the nets while others like the slow of the nets. It is really up to you.

Catching a Crab!

Hopefully you will catch a crab pretty quick!

The first thing you need to do is determine if it is a male or female.

A Female Crab: This is a female. You must throw her back, it is illegal to keep.

A Male Crab: You can keep a male as long as it is long enough, not including the claws.

Can you tell the difference?

So make sure to measure appropriately.

Crabbing is a very social thing. You will mostly come across locals who love to say hi and when someone catches a big one everyone comes to check it out. They will make sure you measure and that you only keep males. This isn’t a turn a blind eye, they will call you out. So be responsible.

Limit to How Many Crabs

Each person with a permit can take home 12 per day.

Crab!

Now hopefully you have a bucket full of crab. REMEMBER, do not put water in your pale or chest. They can die. Then you do not want to eat them.

Cooking your Crab

If you have any questions regarding cooking your crab, please ask in the comments below. This will be quick.

The most ethical way to cook a crab is to boil water, to very much a boil and then put them in one at a time. It takes less than a couple seconds. Cook it for 15 minutes and then take it out and put it in ice cold water for 10 minutes.

Once out of water crack it open and clean it thoroughly.

You can either chill it for some fine chilled crab or eat it right after you have cleaned it!

I like having to crack shells and work for the meat. It is fun and can be another social part of crabbing!

Add a beer and some melted butter or cocktail sauce and you are ready!

I have really enjoyed the experience of crabbing. It can be difficult for some and it is for me as well with regards to catching something that is alive. But then this is the natural order of things. Right? I see where the food is coming from, am part of the gathering of it, killing it and preparing it. I am in control of this and how it is done. Farm raised does not always mean better and it sure does not mean ethical. I struggle with hunting, even though responsible and ethical hunting is far preferable to farms. Respect the process and it helps relieve any doubts. It is regulated for a reason and there are rules for a reason. To protect regarding over catching and to protect it from over population.

Lastly, please remember to LEAVE NO TRACE and to grab any trash, netting or line that you have extra of. The locals we met were the nicest people and they will be nice to other tourist as well as long as they see you respecting their community and the crab.

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