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6 Tips for Crabbing: K.I.S.S.


What is there not to love about crabbing!  It is simple, relaxing, and comes with great reward.  Here are 6 quick tips to stack your steamer full of those delectable Dungeness Crab.


Know your competition: The Tribal and Commercial crabbers often crab the same grounds that the recreational/sport crabbers do.  You will have a major leg up on the competition if you know where they set their pots.  My recommendation: Crab where they aren’t!  How you ask?  Look for localized areas that do not have a lot of acreage or areas that are not easily accessible from port.  Tribal and Commercial crabbers will not typically spread their pots over a number of smaller areas due to incurred fuel costs and run time.



Get it when the getting is good: When the season opens in the Puget Sound, you want to be out there.  Opening day for most areas in Puget Sound is the first week of July, while some areas do open sooner.  The crab populations are healthy and ripe for the picking.


Know your structure: Dungeness Crab like sand/gravel.  Get into the rocks and you will be pulling pots full of….you guessed it….ROCK CRAB.  Rock crab are totally edible but considerably more time is required to crack and eat a red rock crab since the shell hardness rivals that of the titanium in the Ural Mountains of Russia!

Dungeness crabs


Bait, Bait, and more bait: there is one premier bait that out crabs all others….raw, fresh TUNA!  With our abundance of albacore tuna in the Pacific Northwest, finding a carcass or ten is no problem.  Head to Westport when the tuna are in and load up for the year.  Fishermen will gladly give you the remnants of their catch so they don’t have to haul it outside of the marina (marina rule).    Use the large, double load bait boxes and shove them FULL of bait.  Tuna is one bait that will continue to put off scent all day long.  Have you ever gotten tuna blood or slime on your clothes?  Ever tried to get it out?  Certain ladies say that diamonds are forever.  I contend that TUNA smell is forever if you get it in your clothing.  And for its ability to continue to put off scent, it makes great bait and is number one in my book!


Watch the current: In certain areas, the current will rip up to 5 knots or more.  You need to know what the tide is doing.  If you don’t properly weight your pot or ensure proper flotation of your buoy, chances are that your pot will not be where you put it.  Lots of times when a crab fisherman can’t find their crab pot, you will hear “someone stole my pot”.  Yes, someone did steal your pot…THE OCEAN.  Even if your pot stays in the same general vicinity, it’s not effective as crab don’t appreciate a moving target.  There are plenty ways to weight a pot from heavy rebar to attaching a small anchor.  I use the Danielson square crab pots and fish low current areas without any additional weight.

pacific northwest


Don’t get cut off: Do yourself a favor and utilize leaded (sinking) line.  If you choose to use poly (floating) line, it is wise to attach a 8 oz. weight in the middle of the shot (length of rope) so that you do not have additional rope floating on the surface.  Despite everyone’s good nature, the person at the helm does not always see your crab buoy or the rope and will run it over.

You’re set!  Grab your family and get out there.  Add butter, garlic, and lemon juice and you’ll be in culinary heaven!

Capt. Tommy Donlin
Capt. Tommy Donlin, the BD Outdoors Pro Staff representative for the Pacific Northwest, has more than 20 years of experience fishing the waters from S...