- Size 4-6 inches
- Food Value Excellent
- Game Qualities None
- Habitats Inshore, Nearshore, Offshore, River
General interest in Crab fishing (also called crabbing) has skyrocketed since the airing of the show Deadliest Catch. While commercial fishing for King Crab in Alaska is undoubtedly one of the riskiest businesses on the sea, you can expect much calmer conditions on your average recreational fishing charter. In fact, pulling crab pots out of the water isn’t usually the most exciting part of a fishing trip. Most charter boats casually drop pots and cages on their way out to sea and then haul in small loads of Crab before returning to the dock. They don’t make for great sport, but these delicacies are always a good addition your cooler!
As you may have guessed, there are many species of Crab throughout the world and they come in various sizes. Some of the species most commonly targeted by recreational anglers in North America include Dungeness, Red Rock, Snow, Stone, and Blue Crab. In Australia, Mud Crabs are commonly encountered in coastal creeks and flats. On average, all of these species grow to 4-6” in shell width, and some of them occasionally grow as large as 9 or 10” across.
When and Where
Some of the best recreational fishing for Crab can be found on the coasts of America and Canada. Crab catching hotspots to the west include British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. To the east, try Nova Scotia, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina. When it comes to the Gulf Coast, Texas is home to best Crab fishing around.
You’ll find Crabs scuttling around the seafloor at any time of year, but fall and winter are especially productive and most official crabbing seasons take place during those times.
Some Crab species are open to harvest year-round, while others have closed seasons in certain areas (most notably Dungeness Crab). It’s important to note that female Crabs of certain species are off-limits in some areas, as is the case in Alaska. Even species which are open to harvest year-round typically have size and bag limits, so it’s always important to read local regulations.
Crab fishing in Juneau, Alaska
How to Fish
It’s possible to catch Crabs while fishing aboard a boat or scouring the beach on foot. Recreational charter boats usually set traps (such as cages, snares, pots, or nets) in local bays or close to the coast before heading farther out in search of fish.
Beachgoers often catch Crabs using dip nets or a basic setup with a single line and bait. Gloves and a ruler are part of the crabbing toolkit–you want to handle your catch safely and measure it before putting it in the cooler!
Good to Eat?
There’s a reason why commercial Crab fishing is such a lucrative business: these crustaceans are delicious and in high demand. Catching your own on a recreational fishing charter means you can enjoy the freshest Crab around, and that’s a real treat.
Inexperienced anglers should note that not all Crabs are safe to eat, making it very important to identify them properly. Hiring a guide is the best way to fish responsibly, since they’ll be able to tell you if your catch is edible and legal to keep.
Add crabbing to your next adventure on the sea and you’re likely to come home with a feast fit for a king!
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