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Wildlife Officials: Now is Best Season for Crabbing on Oregon Coast

Published 09/15/21 at 5:56 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Wildlife Officials: Now is Best Season for Crabbing on Oregon Coast

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(Oregon Coast) – Wildlife officials on the Oregon coast say starting in September, this is the best time to go crabbing in bays and estuaries.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) sent out that declaration Tuesday. It's a combination of the Dungeness crabs' life cycle and what weather does these days: the coast generally gets what's called the “Second Summer” in September and October.

“Fall is typically the best time of year to crab,” ODFW said. “Beginning in September, crabs will have filled out with more meat, and you'll find more crabs in bays and estuaries thanks to drier weather.”

This time of year, crabs tend to be more “filled out,” ODFW said, which means they'll generally have a higher percentage of quality meat. This can be guaged by the condition of the crab shell: when the shell is hard it can contain 20 to 30 percent meat by weight, while soft-shelled crabs can as far down as 12 percent.

Crabs go through their molting in summer and then grow new shells, so it takes a couple to a few months for them to really fill out. This is why crab meat can remain at its best through the early winter.

Crabbing is open year-round in Oregon coast bays and estuaries, and ODFW said Coos Bay, Tillamook Bay and Newport's Yaquina Bay tend to have the most. The jetties at these places are extremely popular as well.

Other hotspots include the Coquille River at Bandon and the 12th Ave. bridge at Seaside.

“After heavy rainfall and resulting freshets, crab tend to be less abundant in the bays,” ODFW said.

The agency said to look for “slack tides” as the best time of day to catch them, meaning at the peaks of high tide or low tide. During the periods where tides are moving from high or to low they tend to hide in the sands or muds. At those low or high tide periods they're out and about grabbing food.

Crabbing in the ocean is a different matter: that is closed from October 16 to November 30, but otherwise open the rest of the year unless there are toxin restrictions.

To go crabbing along the Oregon coast you'll need a shellfish license, crab measuring device, pots or rings, cooler, bait holders and bait.

ODFW said Dungeness crab isn’t the only crustacean goody you’ll find in these waters. Red rock crab and European green crab are also found.

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MORE PHOTOS BELOW





Baby Dungeness crab: courtesy Seaside Aquarium

Tillamook Bay


Necanicum River, Seaside


Coos Bay, courtesy Oregon's Adventure Coast

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