The Dungeness Crab
Coos Bay Home
**ALERT** As of 1 January 2004 a license is NOW required to harvest shellfish. The cost to Oregon residents is $6.50, and to non-residents the cost is $16.50. A three day non-resident license may be purchased for $9.00.
Crabs are caught in circular steel traps commonly called "pots." The pots weigh between 60 and 125 lbs. with a diameter of 36" to 48". The pots are marked with a buoy attached to a length of rope so that they can be retrieved The pots are usually baited with herring, squid or razor clams to attract the crabs.
Please be sure to visit Crabbing Photographs, Identification, and Cleaning page to see just what the ocean has to offer you with a bit of "work".
Dungeness Crab Biology
Dungeness crabs mature at the age of a year-and-a-half, and at this time they measure about 4 inches. Males reach the minimum sport size at the age of 3 to 4 years old. Mating season for the crabs generally happens between April and September. The females carry the eggs - some carry nearly two and one half million eggs at the same time. The eggs are carried from October until December. They hatch between January and March. Some male crabs may live ten years and be well over 10 inches in size.
Many local residents have their own boats and pots and during
the local crab season are often seen out on the water checking
their pots. Should you not be lucky enough to own your own boat,
crabbing is still very good off of the local docks in Charleston
or the docks in Empire. I strongly
recommend that anyone crabbing in an area that is a frequented by
SEALS to put their bait in a bait holder. The seals just love a
free meal and will steal your bait if you only have it
"pinned" to your cage or ring. My personal preference
is chicken, but many baits work equally well. The best time to go
crabbing is during "slack tide"You can check the which
is generally about an hour before and after high tide. The
Crabbing can be good at other times, but the slack tide seems to
be the best. You can find the best time to go crabbing in Coos
Bay by following the link to my current tide table page.
Depending upon where you are along the coast you will have to
adjust the tide times either up or down. Crabbing in this area
for the non-professional like myself seems to be best from about
September to March. It can, however, sometimes get quite slow during the winter
months, largely in part to the amount of fresh water entering the
bay from our very frequent rains. Remember to measure your crabs
and make sure they are legal. A crab ruler (pictured below) will
be needed to ensure you keep only "legal" crabs.