It may be the middle of winter, but we don’t mind. Whether you like to catch them yourself or just eat them, February is a perfect time to go crabbing on the Southern Oregon Coast! Now that commercial crab season is finally here, a fresh Dungeness crab meal is waiting for you! Why not be adventurous and catch this delicacy yourself in the waters of lower Coos Bay?
Many seasoned crabbers will tell you the general rule of thumb is to plan a crabbing excursion during a month with an ‘r’ (January, February, March, etc). As an added bonus, Mother Nature tends to sprinkle in a handful of wonderfully warm and sunny days during this time which makes crabbing even better!
Catching your own Dungeness crab might sound intimidating, but it is not as hard you think and something everyone should try at least once! It can be done by renting or buying a crab ring and with a little help from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Here are some helpful crabbing tips for beginners:
Rent crab pots and crab rings. Rental crab rings are available at many RV parks and other lodging facilities, and tackle and marine supply stores. In addition to rentals, many of these local businesses can supply bait, information on the latest conditions and some will even cook and clean your catch for a reasonable price!
Basin Tackle Shop
63510 Kingfisher Rd, Coos Bay. 541-888-3811
Bites – On Tackle
750 Newmark Ave, Coos Bay. 541-888-4015
D-Dock in the Charleston Boat Basin. 541-888-TUNA (8862)
Davey Jones Locker
Cape Arago Highway & Boat Basin Road Charleston, OR 97420
In addition to pots or rings, make sure you have the following supplies (most can be rented at the businesses mentioned above)
✓ Crab measuring tool
✓ Bait holders and bait supply
Slack water (the time around high or low tide) are the best times to crab. During slack water, crabs are generally walking around and foraging since they are not getting pushed around by tidal exchange.
An Oregon fishing license is required for those age 12 years or older (except during one “free fishing weekend” in June when licenses or tags are NOT required). Daily licenses available. Most fishing charters, bait shops and sporting goods stores can supply these for you or contact one of the businesses listed below
Locations to purchase fishing licenses Basin Tackle Shop 63510 Kingfisher Rd, Coos Bay. 541-888-3811
Bites – On Tackle 750 Newmark Ave, Coos Bay. 541-888-4015
Bi-Mart 2131 Newmark Ave, North Bend. 541-756-7526 550 4th St, Coos Bay. 541-269-9220
Big 5 Sporting Goods 1659 Virginia Ave, North Bend. 541-751-0522
Fred Meyer 1020 1st St, Coos Bay. 541-269-4000
Walmart 2051 Newmark Ave, Coos Bay. 541-888-5488
ODFW Office (licenses only) 63538 Boat Basin Drive, Charleston. 541-888-5515
Check all lines on pots or rings for knots or kinks to ensure they are durable and will allow gear to work correctly.
Make sure your pots are properly marked (check with the bait and tackle shop).
If you’re dock crabbing with a cage, you can use any kind of bait you want (fish heads do well). However, if you’re using the crab ring the fish heads also attract the big guys like seals and sea lions (you don’t want as they’ll steal your bait). Some locals suggest using chicken or turkey when using an open crab ring. You’ll still attract the crabs, but the pesky sea lions will leave it alone.
Check with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for the most current shellfish regulations and harvest notices.
For more tips, visit the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and be sure to read their instructional flyer How to Crab .