Crabbing varies from region to region. These tips are most ideal for the Pacific Northwest.
Crab Fishing: Differences Between Pots, Rings and Traps
Ideal for a slow winter day beside the ocean, crabbing is a relatively cheap marine activity with possibly rich rewards. The main way these delicious ocean crustaceans are trapped by humans is through the use of either a crab pot or ring.
Crab Pot - Also known as a crab trap, a crab pot is a large metal cage, usually with a wire mesh box for bait and a one way door that crabs can get in but not back out through. A typical crab pot for personal use is about 2 feet wide by 2 feet long and about one foot tall. The bait is secured in a wire bait box which is secured somewhere inside the pot. On one or two sides there is usually a door that swings inward but not outward. The crab is lured by the bait and crawls in through the door, then is trapped inside the cage until the lucky fisherman comes to retrieve his crab pot. A long rope is attached to the crab pot which is attached to a buoy at the other end. Crab pots are ideally dropped off the side of a dock or dropped off in the ocean and left for an hour or so.
Crab Ring - A crab ring is a large net strung between two metal hoops. Typically the hoop on the bottom of the trap is smaller to create a bowl effect. A bait box is then attached to the bottom of the crab ring and the ring is dropped to the ocean floor just like a crab pot would be. The crabs then crawl on the nets to retrieve the bait and while they are maneuvering the nets the lucky crab fisherman hauls up the ring. Usually crab rings aren't left on the ocean floor as long as a crab pot would be since crabs can escape a crab ring more easily than a pot.
Good Crabbing Bait: Fish, Chicken, Turkey
Good bait is very important. Most crab fisherman use raw chicken or fish. Warm and slightly rotten meat is ideal and will provide the crabs with something pungent to lure them in. Make sure to rip up the meat a little to get the juices flowing before putting it the bait box. Also, it's best not to use too small of pieces because they are likely to be pulled out at eaten by the crabs if they are too small.
When and Where to Crab Fish in Oregon and Washington
Low tide is the best time of day to go crabbing. This is when crabs come out of their hiding spots to feed. Also, conventionally speaking, months that end in R are the best time of year to crab. During the spring and summer months crabs are usually molting, and are not as hungry. Due to this, crabs will be less meaty and delicious this time of year.
Good places to crab are typically off the side of a pier or dock, or around the edges of an ocean inlet. It is also possible to use a boat to drop pots or rings into ocean water further away from the shore. Ask local fisherman where good spots to crab in your location.
Crabbing is a fun and cheap winter sport that can be enjoyed with friends or alone. Make sure to check state guidelines for shellfish licensing before heading out.