Shell fish and Crabs

Dungeness Crab

Crabs can be caught in pots, ring traps, rake or the occasional hook and line. All female crabs must be released. 


Pots are the most common method to catch crab. Commercial crabbers use pots to get the crabs you buy at a you local fish store. Bait for use in the crab pots and traps range from cat food, chicken, turkey legs or fish remains. A nice crab trap can cost as much as $100 dollars. They are fished in 10 feet to over 200 feet of water. At 200 feet its a long hard pull when the trap  is full of crab or starfish. It is important to make sure the trap doors are working correctly or the crabs will escape. Pots are the most convenient to use because of the length of time they can be left in the water with out crabs escaping.

Ring Traps

Ring traps are used in shallow water generally off a dock or log boom. They can be purchased for under twenty bucks at the local tackle store. Usually put down for a half hour to soak and pulled up , unless you can sight pull the trap.  You can't leave the trap for a long time or the crabs will escape.


The most enjoyable form of crabbing  is raking. Most raking for crabs is done in shallow water at night during low tide. Equipment includes a lantern, crab boat (tub that floats to put crabs), rake to pick up the crabs, measuring guide, chest waders. Cover rake tips with rubber tubing to protect crabs from injury. Raking can also be done from a boat over sand flats during low tide on calm days with a long handled rake.

Cooking crabs

Crabs are cooked by boiling in salted water. Crabs are generally either placed live into the boiling pot or killed just prior to cooking. Do not use crabs that have been dead for more than a couple of hours without being cooked

If saltwater is not available you can use the following recipe . Use 1/4 cup salt per quart of water. Bring the water to a boil. Drop the crabs in the boiling water and return to a boil. Boil for about 20 minutes.


Crab sex Female CrabMale CrabMeasure

Check your state regulations to determine legal size and open waters

About Crabs

May and June are the most common months in which mating occurs, though it can occur at other times of the year. Mating occurs between hard-shelled male crabs and newly-molted, soft-shelled female crabs. The female stores the sperm in a seminal receptacle until the fall when the eggs are fertilized. She cannot molt in the fall when the male does because she loses the sperm receptacle at that time. When the fertilized eggs are extruded, the resulting mass, often called the sponge, is attached to the female. A large female may carry in excess of 2 1/2 million eggs. Females carrying eggs usually bury themselves in sandy beaches during the fall. Please leave these females alone when you run across them while digging clams.

The embryos develop during the winter and the eggs darken to a dark brown. Between January and March, the larval crabs hatch and swim freely in the sea. They do not resemble adult crabs at this time, and must molt repeatedly and grow much larger before they are recognizable as crabs. When they reach a quarter of an inch in size, approximately one year after the mating that produced them, the juveniles finally resemble the adults they will become. At that time, they take up bottom residence, though it will be another 2-3 years before they reach the minimum sizes for legal catches. Since the male reaches sexual maturity a year before he reaches legal harvesting size and females are completely protected from legal harvest, the Dungeness Crab is unlikely to be decimated by over-harvesting. 

Native Americans  are allocated 50% of the catch in their treaties.