Category Archives: Shellfish

washington-razor-clam-digging

Razor Clam Digging Reopens Feb 15

Washington’s coastal beach communities will once again welcome thousands of eager visitors as yet another long Razor Clam dig has been announced. Extreme low tides and an abundance of those quick footed clams should bring plenty of limits for those willing to hit the beach. Low tides are early enough the first couple days to offer plenty enough daylight to make gathering the 15 Razor Clam limit an easy task. Be prepared to start digging a couple hours before low tide, make sure to keep your limits in separate containers, and have your shellfish license on you. Spring digs are my favorite, and with our unseasonally mild winter, hopefully everyone will get to enjoy a great week of clamming!

[table id=1 /]

As always, consult the fishing regulations before you hit the beach. Here’s the Official WDFW Razor Clam Dig Announcement.

dungeness-crab-seattle

Seattle Crabbing Report July 5

As the locals say, our Seattle summer always officially begins on July 5, because it always rains on the Fourth. For us Puget Sounders, its our way of poking fun at the misfortune we all have when it comes to the weather; April showers brings May…. Showers, then we enjoy a little June gloom, but the day after we get rained out during our Independence Day celebrations… Then summer unofficially begins.

I, on the contrary, consider the opening day of crabbing on the Puget Sound to be the official kick off to MY Seattle summer. Thursday was the day!

We have set and pulled four pots just outside the Shilshole Bay Marina breakwater on Thursday and Friday. Results were mixed. My go to zone is 65′ to 80′ around the Ballard zone, that is where I have always done well and that is where we focused this week. I found a keeper or two per pot on the northern breakwater, and two or three keepers per pot on the southern end near the ship canal channel markers, which I was happy with.

Plenty of folks in all manner of watercraft were pulling pots in the area as well, many were doing poorly but I think almost everyone found at least a couple.

We moved over to Bainbridge today and found the mother load! It was common to find three to five keepers per pot, so we reached our boat limit quickly. The eastern side of Bainbridge doesn’t get fished as hard as the areas
close to Ballard due to the close proximity to the marina and boat launch. We alternated baiting with raw chicken, salmon carcasses and flounder. It didn’t seem to matter, all baits produced about the same. On average we kept about eight or ten crab per mornin g or afternoon outing! Lots of happy faces on our boat these past few days!

puget-sound-crabbing

dungeness-crab-cooked

crabbing-puget-sound

Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Season 2014

The sweet taste of freshly caught Dungeness Crab is one of the uniquely Northwest experiences that help define our region. And guess what? The Puget Sound Crab Season is going to open here on July 3. Puget Sound is Seattle’s summer playground, it is where thousands of us go to, or yearn to be, when we wish to escape the grind that is everyday life. And while our metropolitan fishery seems to be getting ever more popular each year, recent test fisheries show that the bounty of Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound is as healthy and plentiful as ever.

Crab Season Basics

All marine areas of the Puget Sound share some basic regulations.

  • Daily Limit for Dungeness Crab: 5 Males Only. Hardshell. Min. carapace 6.25″
  • Daily Limit for Red Rock Crab: 6 Male or Female. Hardshell. Min. carapace 5″
  • No Pulling or Setting Gear: 1 Hour after official sunset to 1 Hour before official sunrise.
  • Puget Sound Crab Catch Card required. Must fill out immediately after retaining crab.
  • 2 Pots/Rings per licensed person.

Puget Sound Crabbing 2014

The vast majority of crabbing effort occurs in Central Puget Sound, North Puget Sound and the Hood Canal. Catches close to Seattle, Everett and Tacoma can be excellent early in the season but limits of Dungeness can become a little more difficult to find later in the summer.
[table caption=”Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|center|center|center|center “]
Location,Marine Area,Season,Open,Closed
Sekiu,MA 5,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
East Straits,MA 6,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Deception Pass,MA 8-1,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Port Gardner,MA 8-2,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Admiralty Inlet,MA 9,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Seattle,MA 10,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Tacoma,MA 11,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
Hood Canal,MA 12,July 3 thru Sept 1,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
[/table]

San Juan Islands & Bellingham Crabbing 2014

The southern extent of Marine Area 7, including most of the San Juan Islands and the Bellingham area, is a popular area to plan a summer getaway. One of the main reasons that this area has a later opening date is due to the condition of the crab in the area. When Dungeness Crab start to molt, their shells are soft and the quality of the crab meat is lower. Typically, crabbing is only allowed after the majority of crab in the area molt and return to their hardshell condition, and the further north you go… the later in the summer that occurs.
[table caption=”San Juan Islands South Crab Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|center|center|center|center “]
Location,Marine Area,Season,Open,Closed
San Juans & Bellingham,MA 7S,July 17 thru Sept 29,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
[/table]

Strait of Georgia Crabbing 2014

This is one of Western Washington’s more remote areas, with scattered islands that are dotted with seasonal cabins and beach homes. Crabbing can be excellent in this area but the season is short.
[table caption=”San Juan Islands North Crab Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|center|center|center|center “]
Location,Marine Area,Season,Open,Closed
Gulf of Georgia,MA 7N,Aug 15 thru Sept 29,Thurs – Mon,Tues & Wed
[/table]

South Puget Sound Crabbing 2014

Crabbers in Puget Sound’s southern extent get a season that is a month longer than other areas. Angler effort in the Deep South Sound isn’t that great, and since Dungeness Crab can be found in hardshell condition early on, crabbing opens on June 1. The Dungeness Crab may seem to be less abundant here than in other parts of the Sound, but local crabbers seem to do just fine.
[table caption=”South Puget Sound Crab Season 2014″ width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|center|center|center|center “]
Location,Marine Area,Season,Open,Closed
Deep South Sound,MA 13,June 1 thru Sept 1,7 Days a Week,-
[/table]

Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Report May 21

Today we headed to the Hood Canal in search of its famed Spot Shrimp. The residents of the Canal are a laid back type of folk, living on the rural fringe of civilization that offers breathtaking scenery, plenty of great shellfish harvesting options, and is just enough of a drive to keep half of Seattle from settling its shorelines. It boasts phenomenal fishing for Spot Shrimp, and with plenty of dedicated Shrimpers chomping at the bit for a shot at ‘em, the harvest quota gets gobbled up pretty quickly these days, meaning that shrimpers from Ludlow to Lilliwaup only get a few days a year to shrimp. My friend Ryan called me with an invite the day before and I leaped on the opportunity.

A dozen years ago, I travelled with friends to see what all this hype was about. We wanted to see for ourselves what so many had told us, that You Just Gotta Go Try It! So after some planning, we secured moorage at Pleasant Harbor Marina, and had a phenomenal time. I realize now as I did then, that even with a full boatload of shellfish licenses, if you know what you are doing and conditions are right, you can limit the boat in any marine area north of Tacoma pretty easily. But the Canal is a treasure, and just spending time on the water there, admiring the Olympic Mountains to the west, and the steep wooded bluffs of the Kitsap Peninsula is alone worth a trip. So I knew it would be worth a little drive.

By using the terms hype and gobbled up quota and you just gotta go, you will understand that Hood Canal Spot Shrimp are no secret. Boats speckle the Canal’s waters as far as one can see, all hovering along that narrow ribbon of water above the magic depth of 200 to 275 feet. This is where we find them. There is a carpet of Spot Shrimp, sometimes so thick that one can see mass piles of them on the fish finder (at least a dozen salty old timers have sworn this to me). Long lines of trailers crawl towards the boat launch patiently (and occasionally impatiently) waiting their turn. Pots are set extremely close to other pots. Lines can cross and tangles do happen. It can seem like a frenzy. Today was not one of those days. Ryan’s father has a slip at a small marina just south of the Hood Canal Bridge. Ryan and I rendezvoused at his home in Seattle to carpool up. We hit the 7:10 Edmonds ferry and made a quick trip to Ludlow. It wasn’t a half minute from parking at the marina to shoving off. We were on our way.

We headed south to Toandos and waited for 9am, the official start time for the day. Nine to One. That is our window. We needed three limits, 240 Spot Shrimp. Shouldn’t be too tough, we are with the master. Gary lives and breathes this kind of stuff, he is in his element. I admire his bait mixture, it looks good and I wouldn’t mind getting the recipe. I pry, he withholds. True to the Shrimper code I guess. We joke about his homemade bait spoon. But I am more than fortunate to be on board. So we hit 9am, and everyone within sight deployed their first pot. We set all four pots within close proximity. We were on a steep drop off, and running a shallow one at 200 feet and a deep one at 260 feet still kept our gear within a one hundred yard sphere.

Our target was a one hour soak. Gary was anxious and excited. “If you two weren’t here I would’ve pulled em up already!” Waiting for the first pull is always the longest. After that, by the time all the pots are found, pulled, emptied and baited you’ve almost given that initial pot an hour… so it goes quick. We joked around, and one by one the old timers who moor their boats at Gary’s marina idled by to chit chat. “They won’t let me pull them up Larry! The wait is killing me!” You could tell that everyone was pleased to be on the water and in a very jovial mood. We finally hit that one hour mark gave Gary the go ahead to take us to the first buoy. We were off to pull our first pot of the day.

The day couldn’t have been better. Bluebird skies and no wind, and the minor tidal exchange made our task a breeze. Our first pot yielded seventy, and the second, third and fourth each yielded about fifty. I’ve witnessed one pot with over three limits before, but we didn’t experience any gaggers today. We had just shy of our three limits, so Gary only dropped three pots on our second set. I am sure that just one would’ve sufficed, but there sure were a lot of little ones, so we figured we would see if we couldn’t cull out the littlest and find some jumbos. Sure enough each pull yielded about fifty shrimp each, so we picked out the largest and threw back the rest. It’s a bitter sweet sensation one gets when he lets go a hundred beautiful Spot Shrimp after waiting a year to catch them. But we had our limit and were pleased with the day. The water was flat calm, and we enjoyed a few raw Prawns with Soy and Wasabi on the ride in.

We had another phenomenal day on the water and I can’t imagine that anything could’ve gone smoother. Plus a bounty of eighty large Spot Shrimp for the family really added to our accomplished mission. Thanks guys!

Saturday’s Spot Shrimp Challenge

Old Mother Nature just couldn’t seem to make up her mind this week. Thursday’s Lingcod adventure transpired under beautiful blue skies on a calm Puget Sound. Saturday’s Shrimp escapade was a little different. I accepted a last-minute (like 6am the morning of) invite to meet up with my buddies Brian and Al. Blurry-eyed, I jumped out of bed, collected what I could, and raced to Edmonds. Initially, I expected to stay home, yet a last minute invite is far better than no invite at all! As I sped along on the highway to Edmonds, I was already conjuring up memories of that unbeatable flavor that only those fresh-from-the-sea Spot Shrimp can offer. We only get a few days each Spring to fish for them, but the Sound’s bounty is well worth the effort.

We worked our shrimping gear near Edmonds, as did many others on Saturday morning. There were a few tangles, a few pots that drifted into our lines, but for the most part, it was a smooth operation. Brian brought the bait which was a mixture of shrimp pellets, fish oil, and canned mackerel. Several pots we pulled had upwards of 70 Spot Shrimp, most had between 20 to 50. So we worked hard for a few limits, and with a “second-shift” of eager friends hoping to get in on the experience, I ended my day at about noon, with a hefty bag of Spot Shrimp. They got divided up between myself, my parents and my brothers family. Just enough for a snack!

I hope that everyone that was out there on Satuday did well on their limits, stayed safe, and had a good time. Here are a few photos from our day out.

how-to-catch-spot-prawns

Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season 2014

Harvesting your own food is one of the great benefits of living in the Pacific Northwest. And for all of the seafood aficionados reading this, one of our region’s true delicacies is about to open for harvest. Fishing season for Spot Shrimp opens at the beginning of May. Here are the details.

Spot Shrimp in our inland marine areas are regulated on a quota system. The season is determined based on the health of the shrimp population and is split between tribal, non-tribal commercial and recreational users. Once the quota is set, potential user interest in the season is used to decide the number of days that we can fish in each marine area. Being such a sought-after shellfish, and being in such a heavily populated area where many folks enjoy boating and fishing, the seasons near Seattle, Tacoma and Everett are a mere few days.

Fish & Wildlife managers will assess the catch from the listed dates and decide whether to offer us an extended season. Get prepared early, take the day off of work, and go shrimping for a couple days!

For the full skinny from WDFW check out the OFFICIAL WDFW NEWS RELEASE

We will be launching a series of posts in the next month with tons of great information, tips & strategies that will help you catch more Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound this year!

Marine Area 8-1 Deception Pass, Saratoga Passage

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 8-2 Port Susan, Everett, Mukilteo

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 9 Admiralty Inlet, Possession Bar

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm

Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 10 Seattle & Bremerton

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm

Marine Area 11 Tacoma & Vashon Island

Saturday May 3: 7am-3pm
Wednesday May 7: 7am-3pm
Saturday May 10: 7am-3pm
shrimping-for-spot-shrimp
[table caption=”Everett Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:41am 6.1’L,7:37am 9.2’H,2:20pm -0.6’L,9:42pm 10.8’H
May 7,12:11am 10.2’H,7:06am 5.2’L,11:42am 7.1’H,5:41pm 2.6L
[/table]
[table caption=”Seattle Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:42am 6.2’L,7:36am 9.5’H,2:21pm -0.6’L,9:41pm 11.1’H
May 7,12:10am 10.5’H,7:07am 5.2’L,11:41am 7.3’H,5:42pm 2.6L
[/table]
[table caption=”Tacoma Tides” width=”500″ colwidth=”100″
colalign=”left|left|left|left|left”]
Date,Tide,Tide,Tide,Tide
May 3,2:45am 6.2’L,7:44am 10.0’H,2:27pm -0.7’L,9:43pm 11.6’H
May 7,12:14am 11.0’H,7:03am 5.4’L,11:48am 7.8’H,5:51pm 2.6’L
May 10,2:22am 11.1’H,9:11am 2.7’L,3:21pm 9.0’H,8:48pm 4.4’L
[/table]

razor-clam

Early November Razor Clam Digs

All of you eager diggers will be happy to read that we’ve got a full week of Razor Clam opportunity on the Washington Coast coming up! Digging will be wide open during the first week of November. With evening clam tides, break out the headlights and lanterns for easy limits. October 2013 Razor Clam digs were exceptionally good with easy limits for nearly every single person who participated, regardless of experience.

Please also check out the Official WDFW News Release for details and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for additional information and regulations.

Digging Razor Clams at night requires a little more preparation, and the November dates will be a little more chilly, gear up and dress warm! Good luck out there everyone!

Friday November 1

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is 0.1 feet at 5:52 pm

Saturday November 2

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:36 pm

Sunday November 3

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.1 feet at 6:16 pm

Monday November 4

Open Beaches: Long Beach, Twin Harbors, & Mocrocks.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 6:59 pm

Tuesday November 5

Open Beaches: Long Beach and Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.3 feet at 7:45 pm

Wednesday November 6

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 8:33 pm

Thursday November 7

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is -1.2 feet at 9:24 pm

Friday November 8

Open Beaches: Twin Harbors.

Low Tide is 0.3 feet at 10:19 pm

Razor Clam Digging Tips

  • Clam digging not allowed before noon during each open day.
  • Daily limit is the first 15 Razor Clams dug.
  • All clams dug are considered part of your limit, you may not return any small or broken shell clams back to the water.
  • Each person’s limit must be kept in a separate container.
  • Washington Combo Fishing License, Shellfish License or Razor Clam License is required for all participants 15 years or older.
  • Arrive at beach 2 hours before low tide.
  • Bring a propane lantern and a headlamp for night digs.
  • Dress warm during winter Razor Clam digs.
ocean-shores-razor-clam-dig

Washington Razor Clam Digs October 2013

Washington’s Pacific Beaches are about to reopen for another exciting and rewarding Razor Clam dig! An earlier October dig proved to be a great success for hordes of Northwest clam diggers and this upcoming dig offers a chance to get back out to the Coast and score limits for the entire family.

Digging on Washington’s best Razor Clam beaches starts at noon each day, but remember that the closer to low tide the more productive digging gets. So plan to be out on the beach at least 1 to 2 hours before the low tide.

Thursday October 17

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.2 feet at 6:15 pm

Friday October 18

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.6 feet at 6:57 pm

Saturday October 19

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 7:38 pm

Sunday October 20

Open Beaches are Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.7 feet at 8:16 pm

Monday October 21

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.
Low Tide is -0.4 feet at 8:55 pm

Tuesday October 22

Open Beaches are Twin Harbors.
Low Tide is -0.1 feet at 9:34 pm

Please consult the Official News Release and the WDFW Razor Clam Page for more information.

Puget Sound Late Season Crabbing Winter 2013

Washingtonians have been eagerly awaiting news about the fate of our beloved 2013 late-season Puget Sound crab fishery: the word is out, and the word is opportunity! Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife staffers have tabulated the harvest data from the 2013 Summer Crabbing Season and have figured out where there is still is available Dungeness and Red Rock Crab to harvest. Most of Puget Sound re-opened for crabbing on October 1.

Although the Summer Crab Season on Puget Sound draws a greater number of participants, the Winter Crab Season offers many boaters a chance to brave the cooler weather and harvest their own fresh local seafood. While temperatures can be chilly and the chop on Puget Sound a little lumpy, the winter crabbing season definitely draws a crowd. With plenty of crab still left to harvest, expect to see good catches through December.

What Areas of Puget Sound are OPEN for Winter Crabbing?


CLICK HERE for WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing

  • NEAH BAY (Marine Area 4) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SEKIU (Marine Area 5) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • EASTERN STRAITS (Marine Area 6) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SAN JUAN ISLANDS (Marine Area 7) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SKAGIT BAY & HOPE ISLAND (Marine Area 8-1) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • PORT GARDNER AND PORT SUSAN (Marine Area 8-2) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • ADMIRALTY INLET (Marine Area 9) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • SOUTH PUGET SOUND (Marine Area 13) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31
  • HOOD CANAL (Marine Area 12) is open 7 days a week October 1 thru December 31

What Areas of Puget Sound are CLOSED for Winter Crabbing?

  • SEATTLE & BREMERTON (Marine Area 10) CLOSED
  • TACOMA & VASHON (Marine Area 11) CLOSED

Catch Limits & Regulations

Please consult WDFW Recreational Crab Fishing for a complete listing of rules and regulations.

Daily Limit:5 Dungeness Crab, males only, hardshell condition only, minimum size 6 ¼ inches at carapace. Please record all Dungeness Crab on Winter Puget Sound Crab Catch Record Card.

6 Red Rock Crab, males or females, hardshell condition only, minimum size 5 inches at carapace.

Puget Sound Winter Crabbing Tips

  • Winter weather in the Pacific Northwest can be hazardous for boating conditions, so always check the NOAA Marine Forecase before planning a trip on Puget Sound.
  • Make sure that your crab pot has added weight during periods of extreme tidal movement, please check Protides.com before planning your trip!
  • Fresh bait trumps stale/rotten stuff, so pick up some chicken, turkey or fish carcasses from your local grocer. Saving salmon fillets from the summer season can ensure plenty of crab bait during the winter.
  • Using Fish Finder/GPS waypoint marks to identify where you dropped your crab pots can save time searching around for those little red & white buoys.
  • Crabbing can be very productive at depths of 30 to 100 feet, make sure that if you crab deeper than 100 feet that you severely weight your pot down so that is doesn’t drift.
  • Many of the tips & tactics that crabbing enthusiasts use during Puget Sound Summer Crab Season are important during the Puget Sound winter season.
  • Completely fill out your Winter Crab Catch Record Card, and be sure to send it back to WDFW by February 1, 2014.
  • Dress warm during any winter outing on Puget Sound, it may seem 10 Degrees cooler out on the water than it actually is!
  • There is no better way to prepare fresh Puget Sound crab than to boil it in natural saltwater… bring a 5 gallon bucket (with a sealed lid) aboard to transport seawater back home for your next winter crab boil!
dungeness-crab-puget-sound

Puget Sound Crab Season 2013

Puget Sound’s 2013 summer crabbing season has just kicked off! Get in on some great summertime fun out on the Sound. Early reports are rolling in and crabbing in all areas of Puget Sound has been great! Here is a rough outline of the 2013 Puget Sound Crab Season, always consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water… Good Luck out there folks!

OFFICIAL WDFW NEWS RELEASE FOR THE 2013 PUGET SOUND CRAB SEASON

Puget Sound Crab License

Anyone 15 years or older is required to possess a Washington State Shellfish License or Combination Fishing License. In addition, anyone fishing for Crab in Puget Sound is required to get a Puget Sound Crab Endorsement (regardless of age). All Dungeness Crab that are kept must be recorded on a Catch Record Card.

Crab Limits & Size in Puget Sound

The daily limit for crab in Puget Sound…

  • 5 Dungeness Crab (males only, hardshell condition only); Minimum Size is 6 ¼”
  • 6 Red Rock Crab (either males or females); Minimum Size is 5”

Puget Sound Crabbing Areas & Seasons

Marine Areas in Puget Sound (Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11, 13) and Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) will be open for crabbing from July 1 (7am) through September 2.
San Juan Islands will open at a later date. Marine Area 7 South opens July 15 (7am); Marine Area 7 North opens August 15 (7am). San Juan Islands will remain open for crabbing until September 30.

When is Puget Sound Open for Crabbing?

Puget Sound crabbing is opened for crabbing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays only.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

  • There are strict rules and guidelines for crabbing in Puget Sound, please use this page as a rough guide. Consult the official Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet for all regulations & seasons.
  • There are strict rules on crab pot/trap/ring construction: please consult the Washington Fishing Rules Pamphlet
  • All crab gear must be removed from the water at the end of the weekly open days.
  • Crab gear can be left overnight only when the following day is open.
  • Crab Catch Record Card must be returned to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife at the end of the crabbing season.
puget-sound-crabbing

Puget Sound Dungeness Crabbing

On the calm summer waters of our Puget Sound, many local seafood connoisseurs indulge in a tradition that has lasted for the last half dozen generations. Small boats work the nearshore waters, the baiting and setting and pulling of pots all for a payout of big hardshell crab. Dungeness Crab are one of the tastiest critters that we pull from the waters of Puget Sound and they draw 250,000 Northwesterners to the salt every year.

Dungeness Crab are prized for their deliciously sweet meat and their abundance in Puget Sound. They can easily reach 8 inches (measurement across the carapace) and weigh a hefty two pounds. They prefer a habitat of eelgrass beds, sandy or gravel sea floor, and typically live in waters less than 150 feet in depth.

Catching Dungeness Crab is a fairly straight-forward endeavor. It is as simple as picking a spot, setting a baited crab pot, letting it soak for a few hours and then harvesting your catch.

Puget Sound Crabbing Spots

dungeness-crab-fishing

The Puget Sound has far too many Dungeness Crab hot spots to mention, but here are a few of my favorites…

North Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

North Puget Sound offers great crabbing in the shallow expanses of its largest estuaries. Padilla Bay, Skagit Bay and Birch Bay are great places to catch Dungeness Crab in less than 50 feet of water. The North Sound features large eelgrass beds which are the preferred habitat for Dungeness Crab.

  • Utsalady Bay north of Camano Island
  • Camano Island State Park
  • Port Susan near Tulalip & Camano Island
  • Padilla Bay
  • Guemes Island
  • Skagit Bay
  • Birch Bay

Central Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

seattle-dungeness-crabbing

The Central Sound experiences the greatest number of crabbing enthusiasts, the greatest number of boats, and yet it offers up limits of Dungeness to those that crab its waters. Setting pots with the Seattle skyline in view can offer a possibility of full pots & limits for everyone on the boat (especially early in the crab season).

  • Apple Cove Point near Kingston
  • Browns Bay near Edmonds
  • Port Madison near Bainbridge Island
  • Alki Point near West Seattle
  • Shilshole Bay near Ballard (Seattle)
  • Blake Island near Bremerton

South Puget Sound Dungeness Crab Spots

South Puget Sound features an expansive shoreline with many islands, inlets and bays. The entire South Sound is very productive for Dungeness Crab, yet it receives less fishing pressure than other areas of the Sound.

  • Poverty Bay near Redondo
  • Nisqually Reach
  • Case Inlet
  • Carr Inlet

Hood Canal Dungeness Crab Spots

Hood Canal features some of the Pacific Northwest’s best Dungeness Crabbing. Anywhere along the Canal shoreline in the 35 feet to 80 feet range can offer great crabbing. A few of my favorites are…

  • Squamish Harbor
  • Dabob Bay
  • Lilliwaup
  • Potlatch State Park
  • The Great Bend
  • Twanoh State Park

How to Catch Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound

Catching Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound is a fairly simple task. The majority of folks who target Dungeness utilize boats. Catching crab from shore or pier is possible, but boating greatly increases your chances.

What do I need to catch Dungeness Crab in Puget Sound?

There are a few key items needed to effectively catch Dungeness Crab…

  • Shellfish License with Puget Sound Crab Endorsement
  • Crab Pot, Crab Trap or Crab Ring
  • 50’ to 100’ of leaded line
  • Bait Box or Bait Pin
  • Red & White Buoy labeled with crabber’s information
  • Bait (Salmon Head/Carcass, Filleted our Rockfish, Turkey Drumstick, Chicken, Herring, Squid
  • Crab Measurement Device
  • Cooler with Ice

To effectively set crab pots in Puget Sound, it is important to familiarize yourself with the area you will be working. By looking at a nautical chart, one can decipher roughly how deep to set pots. In an area like Everett’s Jetty Island most crabbers set pots in less than 40’, therefore 100’ of leaded line will do nothing but add extra tangles and frustration. If you plan on crabbing in Hood Canal near Lilliwaup, 100’ might be a perfect amount of line. Understand the area’s currents and tidal patterns. Areas with heavier currents like Admiralty Inlet may require heavily weighted pots, where expansive shallow areas like Birch Bay do not require as much weight.

I prefer to set my pots in a specific area. If I am setting four pots, I will run them in a straight line so they are easy to find and manage. When visiting a new area, I prefer to vary the pot depths until I find the depth where crabbing is most productive. For instance, I might set four pots at 45’, 65’, 75’ & 85’, and relocate them after the first pull. I often find that my pots eventually end up fishing a fairly specific depth, which can vary based on location. When I head down to Tillamook Bay, Oregon: 25’ to 35’. Shilshole in Seattle: 65’ to 75’. Hood Canal: 45’ to 65’.

Soaking Pots & Rings

When using pots & traps a soak of at least 2 hours is ideal. Crab need a little time to seek out the bait and work their way around the pot to find the entrance. Crab can find their way out of a pot, but as long as there is some bait left to feed on they will stay. Make sure to use plenty of bait for an overnight soak.

When using rings, a 15 minute to 30 minute soak is ideal. Rings lay flat and Dungeness need to simply scurry over to the bait and begin feeding.

Crabbing Rules for Puget Sound

crabbing-in-washington-puget-sound

It is important to understand the fishing regulations for Puget Sound. Check out the WDFW RECREATIONAL CRAB FISHING REGULATION PAGE. Currently, the daily limit is 5 Male Dungeness Crab per person with a minimum size limit of 6 ¼ inches. Always carry a crab measurement device and keep only Dungeness that are larger than the minimum. Dungeness Crab molt throughout the Spring & Summer, and any molting soft-shell Dungeness has to be released. To determine whether a Dungeness is hard-shell or soft-shell squeeze the back leg or the underside of the carapace, if it flexes with ease, throw it back. There are specific openings each week, and being aware what days are open and what hours are open is important. Soaking crab pots overnight can be very productive, but there might be rules as to when you can set and pull your pots.

dungeness-crab-pot

Crabbing Rigging & Setup

Dungeness Crabs are readily available along the Pacific Coast and are an extremely sought after local delicacy. Seafood lovers from California to Alaska head out to their local waters to capture these tasty shellfish, and with the proper setup, so can you! If you are just getting into crabbing on the West Coast, here are a few items you need.

Crab Pots

There are many different styles of crab pots but basically you can separate them into two groups, round pots and collapsible traps.

Pots are usually geared more towards those looking to crab in deeper water or heavier currents. If you plan on trying to catch Dungeness Crab in the Pacific Ocean, where currents are strong, you want to pick up heavily weighted round pots. Pots tend to be heavier with the weight build into the frame, most weigh 10 to 20 pounds; they are also more expensive than collapsible traps.

Square collapsible traps are by far the most popular in areas like Puget Sound. Traps tend to be less expensive, but they are fairly light weight. I spend most of my time crabbing in Puget Sound and the inexpensive Danielson traps are perfect. We typically are setting our traps in less than 80 feet of water, so a little added weight is all that is needed to keep the trap from drifting. Collapsible traps are also easier to store, so if you plan on keeping your traps on your boat the collapsible traps are real space savers. If you are crabbing from a small boat where space is an issue, bring along the collapsible traps and assemble them one-by-one as you go!

Both traps and pots can be soaked for a long period of time. If you are planning on soaking for a few hours while fishing or overnight, traps and pots are preferred over rings.

puget-sound-crab

Crab Rings

Crab rings are extremely popular, very effective, and preferred if you are looking to catch crab in shallow waters. Rings are popular with folks trying to catch crab from a dock or pier. I like to use crab rings when I am fishing in less than fifty feet. Rings lay flat on the bottom but when pulled, they create a basket that funnels crab to the bottom and keeps them there. Because a ring will simply lie on the bottom, crabs are free to come and go as they please. Fresh bait will draw them into the ring. When using rings, allowing a soak time of about 20 to 45 minutes is perfect. Crab will quickly eat away any bait; once the bait is gone, they will move on searching for another food source. Longer soaks will yield fewer crab.

Crab Trap Harness

When pulling up a crab ring, trap or pot it is important to pull it up evenly. A ring that is pulled up slanted can allow for crabs to crawl out the edge of the ring; a trap that is pulled up slanted allows crabs to potentially escape through an open door. A 3-way or 4-way harness solves this problem. These are designed to clip to the corners of a trap, or clipped evenly around a round pot or ring for a smooth and level retrieve. Harnesses are highly recommended over just tying your line to the edge of your pot/ring/trap.

Crabbing Lines

There are two options for your crabbing main line, yellow ¼ inch poly line or leaded line. Yellow poly is thinner, cheaper and it floats. Floating lines can cause problems when crabbing in an area with boat traffic. Let’s just say you have a 100’ line and decide to set your trap at a 50’ depth, lines can easily be tangled in a boat’s prop or cut off by one. If you decide to use yellow poly, be sure to clip on some weight to the line to pull it under the surface. I find snapping on a weight is a pain, and that a thin line is less comfortable to pull. Leaded lines are a little more expensive, but they offer huge benefits! They are easy to coil. They are thicker and easier to pull. They sink so you don’t have to worry about getting cut off by another boater.

Crab Buoy

Here in Washington, we have many requirements pertaining to our Crab Buoys. They must be half red, half white. Our personal information must be written on them. They must be on the surface and visible at all times. Identifying which buoy belongs to you can be challenging at times. Use a PVC staff and either paint it a bright color or attach a flag to it, this will help you locate your pot quickly. Some folks will connect a multicolored buoy to their required red/white. I am a huge advocate of any form of customization; imagine motoring into a sea of red/white buoys and having to motor around looking for the one with your name written on it!

Bait Box/Cage

Bait boxes are an easy way to store bait in a trap. A bait box will slow down the crabs’ attempts to devour your bait. I prepare all of my bait boxes in advance, then I put them in a cooler so they are ready to go. Attach them permanently with wire ties or zip ties, temporarily with small bungies.

Bait Pin

If you are using a fish carcass for bait, a bait pin can be a great alternative to the bait box. Just run the pin through the mouth of a filleted out rockfish or salmon and into the bottom mesh of your ring/trap/pot.

Crab Bait

Fresh baits work best. Save any filleted carcasses of salmon, trout, rockfish or lingcod because they make excellent bait for Dungeness Crab. Also, I have done very well with chicken, turkey legs and herring.

Crab Measure Device

Having a measuring device with you is extremely important. Every marine area has a specific minimum size requirement for crabs, and a crab measuring tool is essential. Possessing a crab that is even 1/16” under the minimum size can potentially yield you a confiscation of your entire catch and a hefty ticket.

pulling-crab-pots-traps

Crabbing for Dungeness in Westport, Washington

Dungeness Crab are one of the culinary signatures of the Pacific Northwest. They are a delicious delicacy, they are fun to catch, and they are extremely abundant up and down our Pacific Coast. Westport is arguably Washington’s busiest coastal fishing town and a very good place to catch Dungeness Crab. Shorebound anglers and boaters alike enjoy easy catches in Westport, Washington. Whether dropping a few crab pots along the coastline on your way offshore to salmon fish or spending a weekend with the family on the docks, you can get in on this great fishery.

Catching Dungeness Crab without a boat…

Shorebound crabbers will find plenty of options in Westport, Washington from the jetties to the boat basin. The Westport Boat Basin is by far the most popular spot for land-lubbers looking to catch Dungeness Crab. The most popular place to drop crab rings is off Float 20, which is located on the northwest corner of the basin and is accessed from Neddie Rose Drive (Neddie Rose Drive begins at the western end of the basin at The Islander and dead-ends at the parking lot for Float 20). Float 20 is often vacant of boats, leaving plenty of space for anyone looking to try their luck with Dungies. Float 20 is very close to the entrance of the basin, and many crabs will push into the marina from Grays Harbor, offering a better chance at keeper size crab than on other floats.

Within the Westport Boat Basin, crab rings are preferred to pots. Rings only need to soak for a mere 20 minutes since they lay flat on the bottom; nearby Dungeness simply tap dance over to the bait and begin the feast, whereas longer soak times are required when using traps/pots (Crab need time to work their way around the pot to find the entrance). Many of the shops and charter offices along the main street (Westhaven Drive) offer daily rentals of crab rings. Float 20 offers the only access to the high pier, where anglers catch flounder, greenling and rockfish. I like to throw my rings off the ramp to the high pier, or toss them away from the float just before that. While Dungeness Crab will eat nearly anything, I have found that there is no better crab bait than a filleted out Black Sea Bass, this will usually out produce chicken, turkey legs or anything else! I find that a perfect day in Westport begins with a few hours fishing for Rockfish (Sea Bass) and Lingcod at the Westport Jetty, followed by a few hours of crabbing in the basin with the carcasses from my catch. Expect to throw back plenty of small Dungeness before you find a few keepers, but that is all to be expected in an area that is so heavily fished.

The high pier at the end of Float 20 is popular with anglers but Dungeness Crab can also be caught here. While the rocky rip-rap wall at the base of the pier has claimed many a Crab Ring, those with Crab Snares or Castable Crab Traps do very well casting into Grays Harbor. The Finger Jetties off the west side of Neddie Rose Drive are also a great area to use snares and castable traps.

The Westport Jetty is one of my favorite places to crab from shore. I have found that the distant half of the Jetty offers a shore crabber access to a little deeper water, which usually equates to an abundance of larger Dungeness. While I have done well casting Crab Snares on the Harbor side of the Jetty, if the Ocean side is calm enough, I have found greater success getting a limit.

Dungeness Crab in the Pacific Ocean

Westport has long been home to a thriving commercial crabbing fleet. Many of the finest restaurants in the West Coast’s major cities order their Dungeness Crab from local fishermen. And any boaters trying to cross the Grays Harbor Bar will find themselves carefully watching for commercial crab buoys as they make their way to the open ocean. Crabbing in the ocean can be productive at times, and at other times is not. Westport’s commercial crabbing fleet hits the entrance to Grays Harbor hard! If I were planning on setting a few crab pots in the ocean, I would make sure it was in an area away from the sea of bobbing commercial buoys; while there are plenty of Dungeness in the Pacific I feel that there are certain areas that get picked clean if everyone is fishing nearby. Look for an area completely void of commercial buoys. Ocean currents can be extremely strong, so weighted crab pots are essential. Weighting a pot with 10 or 15 pounds should do the trick. Allow at least a few hours of soak time before retrieving. Most folks who crab in the Pacific near Westport will drop their pots, fish for the day, then pull pots on their way back to port. There’s nothing like a few limits of tasty Dungeness Crab to top off a great day of fishing!

Dungeness Crab in Grays Harbor

Boaters looking to find Dungeness Crab within Grays Harbor should focus on the area around the Ocean Shores and Westport Jetties. The entrance to Grays Harbor is bordered by two large rock jetties and the deep channel between the two offers plenty of Dungeness Crab. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in success rate between the northern side near Ocean Shores or the southern side near Westport. Most boaters will just drop their pots in a convenient location to where they moor/launch. Crabbers will notice that the water gets real deep real quick near the Westport Jetty, and most crab buoys end up just out of casting distance from Jetty bound anglers. Most crabbers drop their pots in 30 to 60 feet of water. There is a huge volume of water that moves through the entrance to Grays Harbor during each tide, so heavier pots are critical.

Good Luck on your next crabbing adventure!

Spot Shrimp & Sunburns

Day Two of our two day Spot Shrimp season! With such a huge haul of Spot Shrimp on Saturday, how could we not hit it again on Wednesday! While we ended up with a cooler full of Spot Shrimp we didn’t quite reach our limits, and although our hunt for live bait was more than successful, our hope to live bait a Lingcod was not, but oh the fun we had! With a boat full of longtime friends, how could a guy not have a phenomenal time?

Ryan, Ian & I met Todd down at North Marina in Everett and off we went. We headed to Gedney Island and hovered for a bit while we waited for the 7am opening. Cruising around that 250 foot contour line: Pot One down! Pot Two down! Pot Three down! Pot Four down!

The tidal exchange Wednesday was extreme, but we were prepared. When you are shrimping in an area that has a lot of water movement you need to worry about two things…

1.) Heavy currents that push against the shrimp lines can cause your pot to drift into deeper water .

2.) Heavy currents that push against the shrimp lines can pull your buoy underwater for a period of time, making a pot impossible to find let alone pull.

But with the proper equipment including heavy pots and large buoys, there is usually no cause for concern.

In between sets we headed over to collect some live bait for Lingcod fishing. We anchored in about 30 feet near the East Gedney Green Buoy. Sand Dabs & Sole were easy to catch. Ian was using a tandem white Crappie jig and was out fishing Ryan & my shrimp by a margin of 2 to 1. With a dozen baits swimming in our makeshift livewell, we were prepared for Lings.

After another round of pulling and setting pots, we headed for the reef. There is a large artificial reef on the southern side of Gedney, but being a week into the Lingcod season, it was a little fished out. We managed to entice several aggressive Lingcod, each one ravaged the bait and clamped down. Lings rarely hook themselves when attacking a live bait, yet they will hold on all the way to the surface and hopefully will be netted. When reeling one up, it is essential to keep the Lingcod from breaking surface; once they feel the waterline they immediately spook, drop the bait and say bon voyage. We couldn’t get any of our hooked Lings to hold on, and each one was lost midway to the surface. I think it was the intense sunlight that made landing a Ling nearly impossible, but who knows.

We ended up making 4 sets with 4 pots for a grand total of 250 Spot Shrimp (our potential limit was 320, but man I can’t complain with our haul!), we hooked 5 Lings and lost every single one. I am going to sit down and rethink my Live Bait set-up, back to the drawing board for now!

Wednesday was the final day for the 2013 Puget Sound season on Spot Shrimp, but there are a few more days available in Hood Canal & San Juan Islands, if you can get over there have a great day and enjoy this awesome May weather!

Shrimping with Friends in Everett May 2013

Saturday was our very first chance at Spot Shrimp here in Puget Sound Country. We are blessed with such tasty critters thriving in our local waters, even if we only have two days each year to catch them. Spot Shrimp are one of the most delicious shellfish I’ve experienced. They are a large coldwater shrimp that has the sweetest flavor, some call them Puget Sound Lobsters. The harvest is not for the weak or ill-prepared, heavy pots with long leaded lines must be deployed and pulled from over 200 feet of water. I had the pleasure of joining friends out on the Sound for opening day.

We met at the Everett Marina at 6 am and loaded our food, camera and shrimping gear. The journey out of the marina was akin to Monday morning rush hour. Boats merged from their slips into the steady stream of vessels all headed out after Spot Shrimp.

Our season is short. We have just a few days to harvest this year, and although the limit may seem very generous at 80 Spot Shrimp per person, they are such a treat that most of us shrimpers find that a few meals is all it takes to exhaust the stockpile. While it may appear to be a lot of work for a few meals, I find the whole process of baiting, setting, pulling, sorting, cleaning (and yes then consuming) to be rewarding and enjoyable.

We headed due west from the marina, to the southern side of Gedney Island. There is a large flat expanse just south of the island, and the steep drop off on the edge was where we would find the Shrimp. This is a popular spot and very well known, so we were not alone. We baited out pots and waited for the official start: 7am. With only eight hours before all pots must be out of the water, we wasted no time. Captain Todd has been shrimping for about 12 years, and has pretty much figured out what works and what does not. He also knows that time is not on our side, especially with six people on board and a goal of six limits, or 480 shrimp.

Todd deployed the first pot about fifteen seconds after 7am. Like I said, he’s figured out what works, and wasting time does not. We cruised the edge of the drop off, setting pots at 225 feet to 280 feet. Our fourth and final pot was soaking before 7:30am, and we began our very first pull by 8am. We have always given two hours soak time before pulling pots, but Todd wanted to experiment with shorter soak times… it paid off big time. It was an interesting concept; while longer soaks allow for shrimp to be drawn from a greater distance, how far would a shrimp be willing to travel away from his burrow to find food? If soaking pots for only an hour worked, we would be able to double the amount of sets, meaning that pots set in an unproductive place would be moved quicker.

Well, we made our first pull, and the shorter soak time worked out in our favor. We had two limits from our first pull! We pulled, re-baited and reset pots a total of 4 times before the deadline. Some pot pulls yielded zero, others yielded almost a full limit. As the afternoon winds kicked up, maneuvering the 29’ vessel with buoys and boats everywhere was a challenge, but doable. We worked great as a team, Robin played deckhand, Todd manned the puller, and Wayne & I took turns piloting.

While it might seem unimpressive to get in 4 pulls for 4 pots in 8 hours, the pulling takes time, baiting takes time, searching for an open place among the sea of bobbing boats and buoys takes time. Our very last pot yielded us about 25 Spot Shrimp, bringing the grand total to 437: shy of six limits but impressive nonetheless! A great day on the water, lots of fun with friends, and plenty of tasty Spot Shrimp to bring home to the family!

Here are a few pics of our day out, hope you enjoy em! I will be heading out for Wednesday with Todd and a smaller crew, so we will have a little time to try our luck at Lingcod fishing as well 

Spring Fishing Thoughts

Spring does not make a great first impression here in the Pacific Northwest. She always teases us with a beautifully warm weekend early in the month of April. We blissfully fill our spring schedule with springtime activities like planting the garden, dusting off the patio furniture and preparing the boat, ready for a warm weather paradise that will stretch clear into fall. But every year, she catches us off guard. Overnight frosts that kill our fragile little garden starts, weeks of gray rain laden clouds, and heavy seas that dash our fishing plans. And although spring toys with our emotions, depriving us of that much needed sunshine we have oh so missed, fair weather eventually arrives. Us folks here in the upper left hand corner of the country know how to capitalize on the short summer we do have. And if you fish, you know that it is merely a struggle to choose how to manage your time, our options are many. My interests usually steer me toward the Sound.

As spring approaches, we have so many great places to fish that it is only the limiting factor of time that forces us to pick and choose our favorites. I am always eager for April’s Razor Clams, Coastal Lingcod and Hometown Trout.

I find myself beaming with joy at the chance to head west and enjoy our early morning clam digs on the beach. As folks step onto the sand at Long Beach, Grayland, Ocean Shores and Copalis, the amount of great enjoyment seen in the smiles of so many really shows how a little trip to the coast can wipe away the memory of a wet and dark winter.

A chance to fish for Lingcod and Rockfish in the Pacific is one I won’t miss, and every spring I make a concerted effort to head to Westport. I think it is an amazing opportunity we have, to hop on a Charter and explore the open ocean, and to carry home fillets from a dozen healthy bottomfish for under a hundred dollars.

As April surrenders to May, that final weekend is one of many firsts. I should say, many first fish. Hundreds of thousands of folks grab the tackle box and poles and head to their local lakes. It is an impressive feat to stock thousands of lakes across Washington with millions of trout, but the state does that to give families the chance to enjoy easy fishing near home. Many lakes are stocked well, and fishing can remain good into early summer, but that first weekend is a real slam dunk. The fish might not always be the biggest, but they bring a lot of joy and create plenty of memories for young anglers.

The rule book is mailed out and immediately every boat owner in Seattle has requested time off to go shrimping. Our Sound has a great abundance of Spot Shrimp, but the popularity of the fishery allows for only a few shrimping days a year, lest we over harvest our tasty resource. A Saturday here, a Wednesday there and it seems that it ended as quickly as it began. But the resource managers know that it takes a lot of work to go shrimping, so when it is open, we each get a healthy limit of 80.

Just as folks are readying their shrimping gear in anticipation, Halibut and Lingcod seasons open up in marine areas from Astoria to Bellingham to Olympia. May is a heyday for fishermen in the state, and the chance to keep Lingcod one day, Spot Shrimp the next and Halibut the day after that keeps us plenty busy. So even though the Great Northwest is defined by Salmon, us fishermen have plenty to keep us preoccupied before they arrive. Good luck out there!

razor-clam-digging

Washington State Record Razor Clam

The weather and tides were in our favor, so we headed West… like any true adventurer does. Word had spread that clamming on the Washington Coast was open for business this weekend, so my friend Ryan and best friend Miles made the 3 hour drive from Seattle to the coastal town of Copalis Beach.

Walking into the Green Lantern Tavern is similar to walking into a bar in the Old West. Swing open the doors and you aren’t sure if you will meet a sultry country girl, a drunk logger, a shootout, blue hairs playing bingo, or the best damned prime rib dinner you’ve ever eaten! But the word at the bar was that the mossbacks were showin’ this week on the beach and that meant good times for us clammers.

Mossback is a term used to describe Razor Clams so large, and so old that they have an easily distinguished dark mossy coloring to their shell. Well, were we in for a surprise.

We made our way onto Copalis Beach, one of the few Washington Coast beaches regularly open to the harvesting of Razor Clams. We hit the beach one hour before true low tide, and we already had plenty of company.

While most clammers head out to the surfline and look for any clam show, Ryan and I were in search of the Mossbacks. Miles was a little preoccupied with a nasty tennisball he had found in the rear of my vehicle. Miles is a Yellow Lab, so he rarely helps the clamming cause; usually he just prances on the beach and looks for strangers to annoy.

Ryan & I stalked the beach searching for shows… small, small, meh-medium, small, small… ect. Then, as our wandering paths converged, Ryan and I spotted at the same show at almost the exact same time. Not only was it the largest show we had seen this morning, it was arguably the largest show I have ever seen in my life!

For those of you that are a little confused when I use the term Show… that is the small impression made when a clam living above the waterline pushes sand from its valve, it looks like a small crater on the beach. Normal shows are smaller than a half-dollar piece… this show was about 2 feet in diameter!

We decided to try and conquer it together. About 4 feet Oceanside of the show, Ryan and I dug out a trough roughly 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep. We dug with care, as Razor Clams tend to notice nearby disturbances and dive into the sand beyond reach. We dug and dug. We eventually reached a consensus that it was time to make our move. Donning my clam shovel, I made my way into the hole and gently started scraping sand from the clamside wall of our hole towards the sleeping giant. One shovelful after another. Time was not in our favor; as everyone knows, the tide waits for no man! (I think whoever said that was referring to us clammers).

As I gingerly scraped sand from the beast, a wall of sand collapsed off the front of the beastly bivalve, exposing the meaty mass from a Razor Clam over 6 feet in length!!!!

Sweat dripped off my brow as I anxiously made my way towards the clam. After an eternity of seemingly slow-motion digging, everything happened at once! My final scrape revealed the meaty crust of the Razor Clam, so succulent and obese it couldn’t even close its shell, just like its smaller brethren.

I cleared the sand from the base of the shell carefully, but a clam this sized wasn’t born yesterday and it sensed imminent danger. As it started to shift downward away from danger, Ryan dove headfirst into the watery sand at the bottom of the hole and made a desperate move to thwart its escape. The only way to disable a moving Razor Clam is to disable its power: the digger. He dove towards the base of the clam shell. I knew what he was thinking, cripple the digger and you have bested the clam!

Ryan, half disappeared, head-first and waist-deep was determined. The only part of Ryan exposed above the soupy sand at the base of the clam were his two flailing legs. Then Ryan thrust an arm upward… as if he needed something. While temporarily confused, I came to my senses. He was asking for a weapon! I placed my Beau-Mac clam shovel into his hands and down it disappeared into the mess. Let it be said that Ryan is a diver, he has trained himself to hold his breath for an impressive amount of time so I wasn’t worried one bit. The chaos level reached critical mass! Ryan’s legs made one spastic straining jolt. My heart sank: suffocation? Strangulation by clam digger? An instant passed and I noticed that the bivalve’s shell contracted then released. The battle was won, the giant clam stood there lifeless. I grabbed Ryan’s legs and yanked him to the surface.

Ryan had thrust the shovel from the base of the digger upward into the clam’s heart. Like a paralyzer to the chode, he completely incapacitated the beast! At this point, the tide was quickly pushing up the beach. We took a moment to breathe, then rushed the car down to the surfline to rope the clam to safety.

We strapped it to the top of my Toyota 4Runner and cruised back to Seattle. We noticed a few surprised motorists on I-5, but overall the commute home was fairly uneventful. I am kicking myself for not making it to one of the truck stops along the way to check the actual weight of the clam, I am positive it was a Washington State if not World Record. I will tell you it took 5 hours to clean, and I plan on using the shell as a hot tub. What an amazing adventure and if this doesn’t get you excited to hit the Washington Coast for some tasty Razor Clams I don’t know what will!

copalis-razor-clam

April Razor Clam Digs In Washington

More Razor Clam digging to be had on the Washington Coast this month!

To wrap up the season, we are looking at two openings for Razor Clams at Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks and Long Beach in the month of April. WDFW always makes these digs tentative until bio-toxin tests are completed to make sure that the Razors are safe to eat.

I for one am very excited to get out after these tasty critters, either fried or frittered.

The tentative April digs are looking to be the best digging of the year! Extreme minus tides in the morning hours means pleasurable digging on the beach with the entire family!

  • April 9, Tues., 6:39 a.m., 0.0 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 10, Wed., 7:19 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 11, Thurs., 7:57 a.m., -0.4 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 12, Fri., 8:34 a.m., -0.4 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 13, Sat., 9:11 a.m., -0.2, ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 14, Sun., 9:49 a.m., +0.1, ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 24, Wed., 6:10 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 25, Thurs., 6:54 a.m., -1.0 ft., Twin Harbors
  • April 26, Fri., 7:38 a.m., -1.5 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 27, Sat., 8:24 a.m., -1.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 28, Sun., 9:11 a.m., -1.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • April 29, Mon., 10:01 a.m., -1.5 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks
  • April 30, Tues., 10:55 a.m., -1.0 ft., Twin Harbors

It looks like we can dig until Noon each day, as always your limit is the first 15 Razor Clams dug, regardless of size or condition. Please check out the OFFICIAL WDFW PRESS RELEASE for all the details. Hope you all get a chance to hit the beach during the Razor Clam season! Good luck digging!

digging-razor-clams

Razor Clam Weekend March 28-31

It looks as if we might have another round of razor clam digging this upcoming weekend.

The state is required to do a test of the bio-toxin levels, but it looks as if the dig next weekend will be a go! We have great low tides during the mornings next weekend, so wake up early and head on out! I will update this once we get the final go ahead from the state.

Our last dig on March 7-11 was amazing. Plenty of big clams and lots of folks enjoying a sunny beach wih their families.

Note: This will be the last dig with your 2012-2013 Washington state fishing/clamming license.

The license year is April 1 – March 31, so you will need a new 2013-2014 license if we get a weekend after this one. Have fun out there!

  • March 28, Thursday, 7:57 a.m., -0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • March 29, Friday, 8:40 a.m., -0.6 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March 30, Saturday, 9:26 a.m., -0.7 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • March 31, Sunday, 10:16 a.m., -0.6 ft., Twin Harbors

Here is a link to the official WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Check out all the great information about clamming on the Washington Coast at WDFW RAZOR CLAM INFORATION PAGE

spot-shrimip-limits-puget-sound

2013 Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Season

Each May, the Hood Canal becomes a boating Mecca, as anglers from across the Pacific Northwest descend upon this arm of Puget Sound in search of its sweetest saltwater prize, the Hood Canal Spot Shrimp. Each year, the Hood Canal is opened to the harvest of Spot Shrimp (also called Spot Prawns). The Hood Canal has long been known for its large Spot Shrimp, plenty of easy limits, and a reliable season that for years has given shrimpers more open days than other areas of Puget Sound.

2013 Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Season

Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal Shrimp District)

  • Saturday May 4: 9am to 1pm
  • Wednesday May 8: 9am to 1pm
  • Wednesday May 15: 9am to 1pm
  • Saturday May 18: 9am to 1pm
  • Wednesday May 22: 9am to 1pm

The state will assess the catches during these days and decide whether an additional day will be available. As always, this information is a helpful guide; I recommend you visit the OFFICIAL WDFW 2013 PUGET SOUND SPOT SHRIMP SEASON NEWS RELEASE.

Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Limits

The daily limit for Hood Canal Spot Shrimp is 80 per person. Get the full regulations at Get the full regulations at WDFW SHELLFISH REGULATIONS.

shrimping-for-spot-prawns

2013 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season

Each year, the Puget Sound is opened to the harvest of Spot Shrimp (also called Spot Prawns). While many Washington shellfish license holders eagerly await the news, they are checking their gear, prepping their boats, and bribing fishing buddies for their secret shrimp bait recipes.

This season is going to be a very good one. With healthy populations of Spot Shrimp in the Puget Sound, and an increased portion of the catch going to recreational shrimpers, we will see more open days than we’ve seen in many years.

2013 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season

  • Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, Skagit Bay) : Open Saturday May 4 & Wednesday May 8; Open 7am-3pm.
  • Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner, Everett): Open Saturday May 4 & Wednesday May 8; Open 7am-3pm.
  • Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet): Open Saturday May 4 & Wednesday May 8; Open 7am-3pm.
  • Marine Area 10 (Bremerton, Seattle): Open Saturday May 4 & Wednesday May 8; Open 7am-3pm.
  • Marine Area 11 (Tacoma, Vashon Island): Open Saturday May 4 & Wednesday May 8; Open 7am-3pm.

The state will assess the catches during these days and decide whether an additional day will be available. As always, this information is a helpful guide; I recommend you visit the OFFICIAL WDFW 2013 PUGET SOUND SPOT SHRIMP SEASON NEWS RELEASE.

Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Limits

The daily limit for Puget Sound Spot Shrimp is 80 per person. Get the full regulations at WDFW SHELLFISH REGULATIONS.

More Shrimp for Recreational Shrimpers

This year the WDFW has made some drastic changes to the way they allocate our Spot Shrimp resource to Puget Sound shrimpers. In years’ past, half the allowable non-tribal harvest was allocated to commercial shrimpers and recreational shrimpers received the other half. This year, recreational Puget Sound shrimpers will receive 70 percent of the allowable non-tribal harvest. This will greatly increase the number of days that shrimping is open in the Puget Sound. While the Hood Canal is solely managed for recreational harvest, the San Juan Islands saw sweeping reallocation to recreational harvest as well.

For years, the number of residents that head out to catch this local delicacy has skyrocketed. Since the WDFW tries to keep our resource healthy for future seasons, with more people catching Spot Shrimp every day that shrimping is open, they were forced to limit the number of days during the season to avoid overharvest.

digging-for-razor-clams

Weekend Razor Clam Season on the Washington Coast

We have just been given the green light, many Washington beaches are open for Razor Clamming this weekend! This is going to be one fun filled weekend for many lucky Washington clammers.

With early tides this weekend, we have 5 days of digging, and the first 3 days are daylight digs.

The weather for the Washington coast looks pleasant, with little chance of rain.

The daily limit is 15 Razor Clams. By law, we must keep the first 15 we dig whether they are small or broken shelled.

Here are the tides & beaches for this weekend’s digs:

  • March 7, Thursday, 3:06 p.m., +0.3 ft., Twin Harbors
  • March 8, Friday, 4:01 p.m., 0.0 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach
  • March 9, Saturday, 4:50 p.m., -0.2 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • March 10, Sunday, 6:33 p.m., -0.2 ft., Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks
  • March 11, Monday, 7:12 p.m., 0.0, Twin Harbors

Here is the official WDFW PRESS RELEASE FOR THIS WEEKEND

andrew-moravec-spot-shrimp

Puget Sound Spot Shrimp

Catching Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound

Our Northwest waters provide us with arguably one of the most delectably succulent shellfish found anywhere. The Spot Shrimp thrive in our protected Sound, our expansive Straits, our San Juan Archipelago, and in the Pacific near the edge of the continental shelf. These large shrimp abound in the heavy tidal currents of our main waterways, and they are prized for their flavor. This coldwater species is called by many names: Alaska Spot Prawn, Sitka Spot Prawn, Puget Sound Spot Shrimp. They are even referred to as Puget Sound Lobster and while we must remember they are technically a shrimp, their larger size and sweet robust flavor makes the comparison understandable. Spot Shrimp average 3 to 6 inches, and with a generous limit of 80 Spot Shrimp per person here in Washington the time, effort and cost of becoming a shrimper is well worth it.

About Puget Sound Spot Shrimp

Spot Shrimp thrive in the depths of Puget Sound. While many shrimp species are found in shallow waters, Spot Shrimp live in deeper water. Most Puget Sound shrimpers will target Spot Shrimp at 200-350 feet. Spot Shrimp are the largest shrimp species in Puget Sound, with an average body length of three to five inches.

hood-canal-spot-shrimp

Shrimp Pots

There are numerous manufacturers of shrimp pots, from local garage operations to major importing companies. All recreational shrimp pots must meet WDFW shrimp gear requirements. I highly recommend purchasing a quality pot built by a local company, those that are based in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska or British Columbia will understand the unique challenges that we must face when we go shrimping. I would recommend pots made by Ladner, Beau Mac and McKay; all are located here and each offers a variety of great designs. Ladner offers a pot that has a rigid frame wrapped with a soft mesh net which can be loosened so that pots can be stacked one-inside-the-other like a stack of disposable coffee cups (Very convenient for storage on the boat). Due to the extreme depths that Spot Shrimp live at, weighing down pots so they aren’t swept away by the current is essential.

Many pots are lost each season due to being improperly rigged. It pays to understand the currents in your area. For example, while shrimpers in Edmonds or Mukilteo may be just fine with ten or fifteen pounds of weight, if you travel to shrimp in the heavy currents of the San Juan Islands, you will need at least double that to ensure your pots will not drift away. As the currents push at your lines, a pot can even slightly drag along the bottom, and shrimp will be less prone to enter. Pots should weigh 10 pounds to 30 pounds, depending on how severe the tidal movement and currents are in the area.

Lines

Most shrimpers use standard 1/4″ yellow poly rope (oyster rope). It is relatively inexpensive, and is available in 400 foot rolls. The disadvantage with yellow poly rope, it floats. In Puget Sound’s crowded shrimp fishery, floating slack line often ends up in boat propellers, or wrapped with other pots. It is important to use some form of line weight to limit these problems. As you tend the line as the pot drops into the deep, snap on a pound of lead to the poly line. While this will draw the excess line downward, the disadvantage is seen when using an electic winch, you will have to be vigilant and be prepared to remove the weight before it reaches your gavit block. Due to tidal fluctuations and currents, it is a good idea to have some excess rope, but 400′ of rope in 200′ of water is asking for trouble unless you use a leaded line.

A popular alternative to yellow poly rope is leaded line. Leaded line is more expensive but it is well worth the extra cost, it ensures that there isn’t any floating slack. Many Puget Sound veteran crabbers will take their leaded rope for crabbing, build loops at each end, and link it into longer stretches for shrimping.

Storing lines can be a challege, and keeping everything ship shape and organized is important. We use large laundry tubs (in pics) and designate someone to coil each line as the pot is pulled. A large garden hose reel can be a great way to store all of your lines. Just stap the top line to the first pot, and remember to snap in a buoy before throwing overboard! Multiple lines can be neatly wrapped on a reel if you can purchase one large enough.

Pot Pullers

Pulling shrimp pots by hand isn’t feasible by most people’s standards. With strict time constraints in Puget Sound and Hood Canal, managing one’s time leads to limits. There are many great electric and gas powered models on the market. Do a little research, find one that will mount easily to your boat, and you’re ready! If you cannot justify the cost of a power puller, at least look into purchasing a davit (a davit is an arched apparatus that you will see in several of these pictures, it is the metal arm that extends out past the gunnel and keeps the pot from scratching your boat, makes hand pulling easier as well)

Bait

Ask 10 veteran shrimper’s what their recipe for success is and likely you will get 10 veteran shrimpers who keep their hard-earned bait recipes a secret. But guaranteed they would all have something a little different soaking in their pots during opening day. The most common shrimp bait available is pellet baits, which resembles dog food. These baits leech out scent slowly, and would be great if we could soak our pots overnight, or for longer periods.

Since we in Puget Sound have only a few precious hours each day, creating a mixture that leeches out scent quickly is important. Blend up a mixture of pellet bait, mackerel, seafood flavored wet catfood to start…eventually every shrimper will have their own secret recipe.

Tending the Pots

Soak each pot for two or three hours, pull and repeat. Make sure not to crowd other pots, be respectful for your neighbors. Puget Sound and Hood Canal get extremely crowded on days when shrimping is open. Make sure your buoys are highly visible, and unique. Being able to recognize your buoys by special markings or flags will save time, and the potential for a lost pot. Each limit in Puget Sound must be kept in a separate container. It is easiest to sort as you go, this keeps the danger of overharvesting from being an issue.

hood-canal-shrimping-spot-prawns