Oregon crabbing is a year round activity that can almost always yield a successful trip.
Crabbing trips require minimal gear, often available for rental in coastal towns, and while boat crabbing increases your likelihood for success, dockside crabbing is easy and very accessible. Before crabbing, be aware of crab regulations. Knowledge of where, when, and how to crab will increase your likelihood of success and information on crab biology, identification, and behavior will enhance your experience.
Are red rock crab native?
Yes, red rock crabs (Cancer productus) are native to Oregon. They are often called “Japanese Crab”; a misnomer that may cause worry among recreational crabbers. Red rock crabs are found in the fossil record as well as in Native American middens. They are an important component of Oregon estuaries and nearshore areas, and even function as a steward to the estuary by predating on invasive species such as green crab (Carcinus maenas).
Did all the crabs die, I saw them washed up at the beach?
No, those crabs on the beach are nearly always molts. Molting is a very tricky process. Females are unharvested and some crab die naturally of old age so it is not unusual for some dead crab to be among the molts.
I don't recognize a crab I caught, might it be invasive?
Probably not, there are more than 100 crab species native to Oregon and only 2 invasive species (Green crab and Harris mud crab) that have established modest populations in some Oregon estuaries. Green crab are the most typically seen by the general public, they are occasionally found while crabbing in shallow, moderate salinity areas of estuaries. Chinese mitten crab have never been found in Oregon.