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Dungeness crab
Dungeness crab
Where and When to Crab

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Where and When to Crab

 Where to Crab

In every Oregon estuary, some crab can be found.

Coos, Yaquina, Alsea, and Tillamook normally provide the best year round opportunities.

Smaller estuaries and those with more freshwater influence may only be good during the driest part of summer when salinities in the bays are at their highest.

At times it may seem like crabs are everywhere in the bay and anywhere would be a good habitat to set your crab gear. Most of the time, however, Dungeness crab prefer sandy bottom habitat and red rock crabs prefer habitat with more structure such as docks, pilings or rocks.


Availability by area

  • Necanicum: Dungeness

  • Nehalem Bay: Dungeness

  • Tillamook: Dungeness, Red rock

  • Netarts Bay: Dungeness, Red rock

  • Nestucca Bay: Dungeness

  • Siletz Bay: Dungeness

  • Yaquina Bay: Dungeness, Red rock

  • Alsea Bay: Dungeness

  • Siuslaw River: Dungeness

  • Umpqua River: Dungeness

  • Coos Bay: Dungeness, Red rock

  • Coquille River:  Dungeness

  • South Coast:

    • Port Orford: Dock crabbing can be found year round from the Port docks - Ocean (boat) crabbing areas are easily accessible.

    • Gold Beach: (Rogue River) and Brookings (Chetco River) - Crabbing in these estuaries may only be successful in the driest parts of the summer when the freshwater influence is minimal. Ocean (boat) crabbing areas are easily accessible.
Bay clam map


 When to crab

Time of year: Fall is typically the best time to crab. Beginning in September, crabs will tend to be more “filled out”, meaning there is a higher percentage of quality meat. This is detected by the condition of the shell. Hard shelled crabs will contain 20-30% meat by weight, compared to soft shelled crabs which can be as low as 12%. At times after heavy rainfall and resulting freshets, crab tend to be less abundant in the bays.

Time of day: “Slack tides” (the times of peak high or low tide) are the best times to crab. At slack tides, the most number of crabs are walking around foraging, since they are not getting pushed around by tidal exchange.

Legal Season: Crabbing is open in estuaries (i.e. bays), beaches, tide pools, piers, and jetties year round. Crabbing in the ocean is CLOSED for Dungeness crab from October 16 to November 30.

It is always good practice to review shellfishing regulations before you head out crabbing. Check out the current regulations online or pick-up a current Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation booklet at any ODFW office or sporting goods store.


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