Crabbing 101

We write about all the amazing places to eat in the city quite frequently, but what if you wanted to actually catch your dinner? What if you were looking for a real PNW experience that resulted in a delicious, well deserved meal? Well, we’ve got you covered. This post is dedicated to a favorite northwest activity…crabbing! How amazing is it that some of the World’s best crab is located right here in the Puget Sound just waiting to crawl into your trap and your dinner table. Here is our step by step guide.

Step 1: Get yourself a crabbing license. It’s illegal to catch crab without one if you are over the age of 15. You can get a day pass or one that is good for the year, and you can easily find them at most local sporting goods stores. Here is a complete list of locations. You also need to carry a catch card and record all of the Dungeness crab you catch (even if you catch zero, you are required to record and submit that). There is actually a $10 fine for not turning in your catch card!

Step 2: Gather your equipment. You will need a crabbing cage. There are many different types, but we prefer this one because it has four entrance doors and will trap the crab. You are also going to need a bait cage, which you fill with chicken parts (just buy cheap stuff!) to attract the crabs. You'll need a 75 ft. (or longer) rope tied to the cage and to a float so you can find your cage after you've dropped it. Buy them together here. Last you need to bring a measuring tape and a bucket to hold alllllll the crab you are about to catch. While this might sound intimidating, these items are not all that expensive.

How to catch a crab

Step. 3: Choose your spot! There are many different areas to crab around town. If you don’t have easy access to a boat, no worries! You can crab right off of a pier. We like Shilshole Bay Marina near Golden Gardens Park, Mukilteo Pier, and Redondo Pier in South Seattle. This article from the Seattle Times lists a bunch of places you can crab. Also, don’t forget to make sure the crabbing season is open. There are times through the year where it closes to allow scientist to count the population and for the crab’s molting season. The season is currently closed in Seattle, but it is open along the coast. Check this site to see which areas are open.

Step 4: Add the bait to your trap, toss it in, and wait! You can leave it for a few hours or overnight. This would be a good time to crack open a beer. When you are ready to check on your cage, pull it up. It should (hopefully) be filled with crab. However, don’t get too excited. Chances are you will only get to keep some of them. All females have to be thrown back to keep the population sustainable. You can also only keep crab that are over 6 ¼ inches. Throw back anything smaller. 


Step. 5: Take your crab home, crack, clean, and enjoy! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and bask in the glory you are sure to receive from your friends and family. Here is a great tutorial for how to clean and cook your crab

Crab Salad