Magazine article Sunset

Catch Your Own Crab on the Oregon Coast

Magazine article Sunset

Catch Your Own Crab on the Oregon Coast

Article excerpt

The state's bays are great places to give this low-tech sport a try

I LIKE TO TRY NEW activities as much as the next person, but I confess that I generally prefer activities of the uncomplicated variety when on vacation. If something requires a lot of concentration, time, or money, count me out. That's why crabbing is such a great leisure-time pursuit. It's so simple and relaxing, it's a stretch to call it a sport.

For would-be crabbers, there's no better place to learn than Oregon, where Dungeness and red rock crab can be found in nearly all the state's large saltwater bays. Crabbing is permitted year-round, no license is required, and bayside tackle shops supply the necessary equipment and bait.

What's more, even beginners can expect success. As Neil Richmond, crab fishery biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, explains, "This is one sport where you can routinely expect to get your limit |12 Dungeness and 24 red rock crab per day~ if the conditions and time of year are right. You can't say that about many types of fishing."

Now is the best time of year for crabbing in Oregon. In winter months, rain can reduce the salinity of the bays, forcing crab into the ocean; during the summer, crab are molting.


The best time of day to go crabbing is when the crab are able to move about freely, from an hour before slack tide to an hour after the tide changes. Tidal times change from day to day as well as from bay to bay, so check a tide table.

To start your crabbing adventure, head to a tackle shop and rent a couple of crab rings (three per person is the limit). These traps, which rent for just a few dollars per day, are simply two plastic-covered metal rings, the top one slightly larger than the bottom one, joined together by heavy fishing web. Colorful floats and a pull rope for retrieving the ring are attached. Be sure to pick up crab bait, usually a fish carcass, which most tackle shops sell for about $1.

Don't be afraid to ask the shop clerk for the best nearby crabbing spots; most locals want new crabbers to be successful. Shore crabbing from a sportfishing pier or public dock, rather than open-water crabbing from a boat, is best for the uninitiated.

Once you've found that ideal spot, fasten the bait to the bottoms of the crab rings and toss the rings into the water. …

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