Crabbing Successfully

Everyone wants to go home with crabs, and their crab pots, after a day of crabbing. In recent years, we’ve seen record numbers of Dungeness crabs being harvested in Puget Sound, and it is important that all crabbers follow the rules to sustain the population for future years. Recreational crabbers are the largest population of crabbers out there, so our cumulative actions can have an immense impact.

Help keep the crab population strong by:

  • Checking the current Fish & Wildlife Regulations before you go.
  • Keeping only male crabs 6 ¼” and larger.
  • Checking for soft-shell crabs in your pot and return them.
  • Recording your catch.
  • Ensuring your traps are well secured to prevent loss in the water.

Learn more by picking up your free regulation booklet, which has maps of crab catch areas, how to measure crabs and check for shell hardness, equipment regulations, sizes, and limits. Check the WDFW website for seasonal information and which days of the week you may crab.

How to keep your crab pots

Each year, over 12,000 crab pots are lost and wind up on the bottom of Puget Sound. Those pots trap and kill the equivalent of 178,000 male, harvestable crabs annually!

Keep your pot by:

  • Staying with your pots whenever possible.
  • Using a GPS unit to record the exact position of your pots.
  • Using escape (or rot) cord that is 100% natural, such as cotton, jute, or hemp is the law in Washington. These biodegradable cords rot away in two to three months and leave an opening for crabs to escape if your pot is lost. This will prevent an estimated 30 legal size crabs a year from dying in your lost pot!
  • Weighting your lines because a passing boat will not see a floating line and can cut it as it passes by. Buy leaded line or purchase weights and attach those to your line. You should weight your pot too, especially if you are crabbing in areas with strong currents or during large tidal exchanges.
  • Checking the water depth before you lower your pots. Use a line that is one-third longer than the water depth to ensure that you won’t lose your pot due to deep water, high tides, or strong currents that pull the pot sideways as you lower it to the ground.
  • Steering clear of high traffic areas such as shipping lanes and ferry route. Commercial vessels do not detour for crab pots. Also avoid sailing regatta courses since boats under sail are not very maneuverable and their deep keel can easily snag your crab line.