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Catching Dungeness Crab with a Crab Trap or Crab Pot for Seafood Dinner

Updated on November 15, 2011

Crabbing with a Crab Pot

Catching fresh Dungeness Crab is easily done along the coast of the Pacific Northwest using a Crab Trap or Crab Ring. Crabbing is a pretty simple activity, bait a trap and drop it to the bottom of the bay or ocean and pull the crab trap or ring style pot back up to the surface. While crabbing is an activity that is most often done from a boat in order to reach the best fishing grounds for crab, many people catch plenty of large Dungeness and rock crabs from piers and docks along the coast and bays. If you enjoy a fresh caught seafood dinner than try crabbing if you have a few hours in the morning or afternoon depending on the tide and catch your own delicious crab.

Crabbing Pictures

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Cooked CrabCrab in the BucketPier for CrabbingCrab Hangout
Cooked Crab
Cooked Crab
Crab in the Bucket
Crab in the Bucket
Pier for Crabbing
Pier for Crabbing
Crab Hangout
Crab Hangout

Crab Pots, Crab Traps, & Crab Rings

Essentials for Crabbing

The following are some basic crabbing essentials.

A Crab catching device. The most common method for catching crab is using a pot, trap, or ring device that is connected to rope. There are pros and cons to the different types of crabbing equipment.

Recreational crabbers usually will experience the most success from Crab Rings these are the open style crab pots that simply have an outer and inner steel ring with mesh netting. When crabbing from a pier these tend to work the best as you are retrieving the ring every 15-20 minutes to check if any new crab crawled in. The Slip Ring is an alternative that allows for a little more security in ensuring that your catch does not escape at the last moments while pulling up the ring. Place the bait in a mesh bag or cage and fasten it to the middle of the ring.

Another style is the Crab Pot which is a round pot similar to the ring yet it is a solid cage / trap device that does not allow the crab to climb back out once they have been retrieved. These style of crabbing pots are best when fished for a longer period of time as they need to let the crab have time to climb in and get caught. If you are pulling pots with crab hanging on the outside and not inside then you are not letting them sit on the bottom long enough so they can climb in.

A Crab Trap is best used when you are planning on crabbing for a long period of time over several hours. Hang the bait inside of the trap so that it is in the middle of the trap and let the pots soak for a long time, so the crab can find the entrances. If you are crabbing on a pier or dock these are not the best to use, but you can always toss in one trap or pot when pulling rings and only pull the trap in at the end of the day to see if you caught any crab.

Other important details:

  • Strong rope 3/8 inch tends to be good, use leadcore if in stronger currents otherwise standard rope can be fine.
  • Bait hangers and bait cages or bags. Having covers for bait is great especially when crabbing near seals.
  • Bait can come in many forms from fish scraps and carcasses to chicken. Chicken is great if there are lots of seals around your rings and pots and a Salmon head and carcass can be amazing if you are a fisherman save the bodies for excellent crab bait.
  • Gloves can come in handy when pulling lots of crab rings all day.
  • Crab Measurement device as most states have specific length and sex requirements.
  • Know the regulations for numbers, size, and sex of crab that can be kept for the different species.
  • A bucket to keep the crab in. Keep them in Saltwater as freshwater will kill the crab. Its good to use the water from the sea to cook them as well.

Crab Cleaning Basics

After catching your legal sized Dungeness Crab it is time to eat them and enjoy a tasty Seafood dinner. There are many different methods for processing a crab, some people like to kill them with a knife with a quick whack down the middle and others prefer to pop the back shell off, or you can also place them in a large pot of rolling boiling water. I prefer to place them in boiling water as it seems to be the easiest way to ensure they die quickly. The shells are very strong when they are alive and it is not simple to kill them by popping the shell or with a knife every time.

After the crab is boiled remove the shell and all of the innards and gills. You will be left with some large body sections with very delicious meat that can be plucked with crackers and pickers to make a number of delicious seafood recipes or eaten as is with a little rice and dipping sauce.

Pulling a crab pot, trap or ring may be hard work but it is all made worth it when eating a meal of delicate sweet Dungeness crab.


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