How to Crab on the Oregon Coast

How to crab on the Oregon coast

How to crab on the Oregon Coast. Catching crab on the Oregon Coast is not as hard as you might think. It’s a great family activity and a whole lot of fun. The rewards also make it well worth the effort! Here’s a quick crabbing guide of things you’ll need, as well as a some tips on how to crab on the Oregon coast.

Things you will Need

  • Oregon Shellfish License (required for ages 12 and over)
  • Crab pots/rings, or traps with lines & buoy ( mark your buoys for easy identification)
  • Crab measuring tool
  • Five-gallon bucket or cooler for crab
  • Bait…we like to use chicken or turkey
  • Bait holder or wire to tie bait in
  • Warm clothes
  • Gloves

Where to Go Crabbing in Oregon

  • Tillamook: Tillamook Bay
  • Pacific City: Nestucca Bay
  • Lincoln City: Siletz Bay
  • Newport: Yaquina Bay
  • Walport: Alsea Bay
  • Coos Bay: Coos Bay
  • Port Orford : Port Orford dock or boat
  • Gold Beach: Rogue River
  • Brookings: Port of Brookings Harbor Chetco River

When to Go Crabbing on the Oregon Coast

  • Bays, estuaries, beaches, tide pools, piers and jetties open all year.
  • Ocean closed for Dungeness crab October 16 – November 30
  • We think the fall is the best time of the year
  • Call the Statewide Shellfish Safety Hotline before going to check for any shellfish closures due to biotoxins 1-800-562-5632.


Rules & Regulations from ODFW Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

  • Bays, estuaries, beaches, tide pools, piers and jetties open all year.
  • Ocean closed for Dungeness crab October 16 – November 30
  • May be taken using crab rings, pots, or baited lines (Limited to 3 rings, pots or lines per person); or by hand, dip net, or rake.
  • Size is measured in a straight line across the back (caliper measurement) immediately in front of, but not including the points.
  • Undersize and female Dungeness crabs and unwanted crabs must be immediately released unharmed.
  • No more than 2 daily catch limits of Dungeness crabs (24) or red rock crabs (48) may be kept in a trap or live box. Holding devices prohibited in Pacific Ocean.
  • Crabs may not be mutilated so that sex, size or species cannot be determined prior to landing. Mutilated crabs may not be transported across state waters.
  • Limits and/or open areas may change. Call ODFW for current information.


Crabbing Limits

How to Catch Crab

You can crab from the docks, by boat, and sometimes right from the shore. Some places rent boats for crabbing, but you will want to call ahead of time and make sure. The best time to crab is at slack tide. When the water isn’t moving in or out very fast. We like to go an hour before high or low tide. When the water is moving faster the crab like to burrow themselves in the sand, so you may not see or catch any at that time. At slack tide, however, they come out and feed, so try to go then.

You will need to secure your bait in the crab trap / crab pot. You can use a bait holder or wire to tie the bait down securely. We like to use chicken for bait because the seals don’t bother it much. Hopefully your crab trap / crab pot came equipped with line and a buoy. If not, you will need to get that together before starting. Once the bait is secured and you have found a good spot, you just drop or throw your pot or trap in the water. Wait about 15- 20 minutes and then pull up the trap and see if you got any. With the crab pots you will need to pull quickly without letting any slack form in the line so the crabs can’t get away. After you pull your trap in, check for legal sized keepers and put the legal sized crab in a little bit of sea water to keep them fresh. The 5-gallon bucket or cooler works well for this. If you use a 5-gallon bucket make sure you have a lid, or the sea gulls may get your catch! You also want to make sure the crab have water covering them and they stay alive until you cook them. Remember dungeness crab you may keep males 5 3/4 inches or bigger, all female dungeness crab must be immediately released unharmed.

How to crab on the Oregon Coast


How to Handle Crab

The crabs will try and pinch you, so be careful. We grab them from behind so they can’t pinch us. It’s kinda tricky, but you’ll get the hang of it. You can also wear leather gloves to help protect you till you get the hang of it.

How to Handle Crab

Pick up crabs from the back, so they can’t pinch you. Male crabs (like this one pictured) have a more pointed underside flap, and female crabs have a rounder underside flap.

Small Collapsible Crab Trap Method

How to cook your crab:

Use a large cooking pot big enough to completely cover your crab. Add approx ¼ cup salt per each gallon of water. Bring the water to a full boil and then add the crab. After adding the crab, again bring the water to a full boil, and boil the crab for 18-20 minutes, or cook 1-1.5 pounds crabs 15 minutes, 2- lbs 18 minutes, and 3-pound of crabs for about 20 minutes. Remove crab drain and rinse in cool water for easy handling.  After your crab has cooled enough to handle, clean, eat, and enjoy.

Oregon Coast Dungeness Crab

Oregon Coast Dungeness Crab


Oregon Coast Dungeness Crab

Oregon Coast Dungeness Crab Dinner

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