When Is Crab Fishing Season?

The major season for every crab species is from October to January, this is the period they are mostly at their biggest size and population at its peak after breeding. Crabbing season is being extended to July in some states. Highest crab-producing states such as Alaska, Washington, and Maine, begin crab fishing season in the fall and stop in early spring. Crab fishing season is all year round in states like Florida and South Carolina.

Crabbing seasons are slated for summer in some states instead of winter when crab species are inactive and resting. For instance, crabbing season begins 1st of April and stops in November.

Know Your State’s Season

Before you begin preparing your floats, pull line, bait bag, bushel, nets and traps for fishing, find out about your state’s fishing season and eligibility. Majority of the states in the US highlight seasons for each kind of species you are allowed to fish on fish and wildlife websites. You can also check out the size limit, bag limit, as well as the opening and closing period.

It is particular to most states that you must own a license to fish, ensure you have one for each of you are fishing as a group before hitting the water. Make inquiries if you will be needing an extra license for crabbing because some states do issue separate licenses for different species.

Make sure you watch out for any form of alteration that might occur to season ending dates.

Always ensure you keep yourself updated to any alterations to season ending dates. In certain states, crabbing season might be shorten if expert discovered that a species’ population has declined drastically. Similarly, if the population is endangered by overfishing, some states will not open crab season. Fishing during these periods may be tagged a criminal act.

Crabbing In Washington

Fishing crab is one of Puget Sound’s most common fisheries for leisure. It is a known fact that, every year, sport fishers capture over 1.3 million pounds of Dungeness crab making use of pots and ring nets. Wade and dive fishers also make use of their bare hands.

While you are preparing to fish, ensure you own a proper license and the proper catch record card if you are fishing crab-like Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Try and learn more about each species of crab you can capture and keep in Washington water bodies.

  • Dungeness crab
  • Red rock crab
  • Tanner crab

Washington Crab Fishing Seasons And Areas

Marine Area  Crab AreaStatus Days OpenSeason Dates
Area 1South Coast/Pacific OceanOPENEverydayYear-round
Area 1Columbia RiverOPENEverydayYear-round
Area 2Westport/Ocean ShoresOPENEverydayYear-round
Area 2Willapa Bay – Area 2-1OPENEverydayYear-round
Area 2Grays Harbor – Area 2-2OPENEverydayYear-round
Area 3LaPushOPENEverydayYear-round
Area 4Neah Bay – East of Tatoosh-Bonilla lineOPENEverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 4Neah Bay – West of Tatoosh-Bonilla lineOPENEverydayYear-round
Area 5Sekiu and Pillar PointOPENEverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 6East Juan de Fuca Strait, Port Angeles Harbor, Discovery Bay OPEN EverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 7South – San Juan Islands/Bellingham OPEN EverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 7North – Gulf of GeorgiaOPENEverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 8-1Deception Pass – Area 8-1OPENEverydayOpen from October 10, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 8-2Port Susan/Everett – Area 8-2OPENEverydayOpen from October 10, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 9Port Gamble/Port LudlowOPENEverydayWaters north of the Hood Canal bridge to a line connecting Olele Point and Foulweather Bluff. Open from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 9Admiralty InletOPENEverydayAll of Area Marine 9 EXCEPT waters north of the Hood Canal bridge to a line connecting Olele Point and Foulweather Bluff. Open from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 10Seattle/BremertonCLOSEDNoneNo winter season scheduled.
Area 11Tacoma-Vashon IslandCLOSEDNoneNo winter season scheduled.
Area 12Hood Canal – North of Ayock PointOPENEverydayOpen from October 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 seven days a week.
Area 12Hood Canal – South of Ayock PointCLOSEDNoneClosed. Will not open in 2020.
Area 13South Puget SoundCLOSEDNoneClosed. Will not open in 2020.

Rules And Regulations For Crabber In Washington Water Bodies

15 years and above sport crabber must own an up-to-date Washington fishing license. Alternatives vary from a yearly shellfish/seaweed license to combination fishing licenses, useable for just a day or per annum.  

In addition to sport crabber, irrespective of age and who hunt for crab in Puget Sound must have a crab approval on the license you carry and complete catch record cards to account for all Dungeness crab you capture. You must also return your catch record card or report online whether you did not go fishing crab or capture crab. The summer and winter catch card have the deadline for returning, printed on each of them. If it happened that you refuse to return your catch card, you will be mandated to a penalty fee of $10 before yow will be permitted to buy another crab approval.

Updated Reporting System

Two-card reporting system: Any crabber fishing in Puget Sound is expected to report his or her Dungeness crab capture on different summer and fall catch record cards immediately after each season. Multi-species card used for recording captures of salmon, halibut and other fishes are differentiated from the new cards. Individuals of the same age bracket who own a crab approval and received a capture record are expected to prepare a report whether you did not participate in crabbing or capture any crab.

Online Reporting: you are expected to report your details either via WDFW’s online licensing system or post your catch cards to the postal address made available on this page. However, the website address where you can report crab capture is clearly printed on the catch record card. Also, reporting deadlines are being printed on the catch record card.

The website used for reporting will only receive capture reports for the two time periods.  Summer Catch Record Cards can only be input from Labor Day through 1st of October.  Winter Catch Record Cards can only be input from 1st of January through 4th of February. You will be permitted to see your reporting history all time through the reporting website 

No Coastal Reporting: It is highly compulsory that you own a catch record cards before you can be allowed to fish Dungeness crab within the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca that includes marine area 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and marine areas 5-13. However, catch record card are not needed on the coast that includes marine areas 1-3 and marine area 4 (west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line). 

Failure To Report Penalty: If you refuse to report your winter of summer yield, it will be expected of you to pay a penalty fee of $10 in addition to the following years license crabbers fail to report their summer or winter harvest, they will be assessed a $10 penalty with the following year’s license procurement.

Note that Catch record cards must be returned and received by the WDFW immediately after the summer and winter seasons end. There are numerous channels you can report your capture information. You can decide to report via an online platform, drop the catch cards off at a WDFW regional office, or post them to the address provided on the card.

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