BLOG: First Time Crabbing? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
So you’re new to the crabbing game, or it’s been awhile you need to brush up? You’ve come to the right place! Crabbing on the Oregon Coast is a fun and relaxing hobby the whole family can enjoy. Here is what you need to know before you go out to catch some tasty Oregon Coast crab.
Where to Start
Coos Bay and the surrounding area has several places to rent boats and crabbing gear that is very affordable. Have a boat is not required, but you can rent boats at Betty Cay Charters and Ringo’s Lakeside Marina. You can also do your crabbing on any suitable dock or pier. Crabbing gear is plentiful in this area; here is a list of what you’ll need.
– Shellfish license – available at the ODFW offices and many sporting goods and hardware stores. It’s a good idea to review the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations beforehand. Note: Children under 12 do not need a license.
– Crab pots and/or rings
– Crab measuring tool
– Cooler with ice or a big bucket with fresh seawater
– Rubber gloves
– Bait holders and sinking line
– A good supply of bait (fresh turkey, chicken, mink, fish carcass, herring, or clams)
Best Time of Day/Year to go Crabbing on the Oregon Coast
Fall is typically the best time to crab. From September on, crabs start to “fill out” and gain a higher percentage of meat. As a rule of thumb, hard shell crabs have about 20-30% meat, while soft-shelled crabs only have about 15%.
For the best time of day, check the tide tables and try to get out in the water during low or high tide (slack water time). During this time, crabs are at their most active and will be out foraging for their own food (i.e. your bait!)
How to Bait Your Gear
Place bait inside your crab gear (your crab ring or crab pot). As long as the bait stays inside your gear, the crab will get to it. Use a string or wire to secure the bait inside. Be aware that if seals or sea lions are in the area, often times they will also be attracted to your bait if you are using a crab ring. To minimize this, use a heavy-duty crab pot and bait they won’t eat, such as turkey or chicken.
Once the bait is inside, tie the end of your crab line to your boat, or the dock or pier you are fishing from before throwing the crab pot/ring into the water. When using crab rings, allow about 20-30 minutes before retrieving. Forr crab pots, allow 1-2 hours before retrieving your gear.
Sorting Through Your Crab Catch
Be careful to not break any crab legs or get pinched, and keep your crabs at ease by giving the crab pot/ring a quick shake. Check to be sure your crabs are legal: know how to differentiate between male and female crabs – the females must be returned to the water immediately, as it is illegal to keep them. When throwing them back in, be sure to do it gently so as not to kill them. It is also illegal to retain only the claws of any species.
Store your crabs in an ice cooler or bucket of fresh seawater (freshwater will kill them prematurely and render them inedible). Releasing any softshell crabs you catch is highly recommended, as they are likely newly molted and their meat content is low and not of the best quality.
And that’s it! Then you can take your catch home and cook them up for a delicious seafood meal, or take them to any one of several restaurants in the area that will cook them up for you (for a fee, of course!) Bon appetit!