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?
- 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!