Learn How to Crab On The Oregon Coast!


When you walk through the grocery store and you come across the fish department, they more than likely have King Crab and Dungeness Crab beautifully displayed. When you are on the coast almost every restaurant has fresh, day caught crab available. But wait, you get the case where they have it, your eyes go wide, you start salivating in excitement but then in an instant your excitement is over when you see the price. Upwards of $35/lb with the shell (not just meat) or for a tiny ramekin with ready to eat Crab you could pay around $25.00+ tip.

So what if there was a way to enjoy this same crab for a fraction of the price and for a little more work or fun, depending on how you see it. We enjoy going crabbing and then preparing it ourselves. Being able to be in control of the crab and the process the entire time is something that is important to us.

Are you interested in learning how to Crab on the Oregon Coast? Then keep reading for an in-depth guide to how to get into it and to do it safely for everyone, including the crab.

Picture of a Female Dungeness Crab [Throw Back, Illegal to keep]33andfree

Crabbing on the Oregon Coast!

If you have never crabbed before, I highly suggest going to Siletz Bay first. They offer free Crabbing 101 courses on Saturdays.

Items Needed

There are 6 items that you need to Crab on the Oregon coast.

1. License - It is $30 for a year license.

2. Crab Nets or Cage - The cost of cages can be a bit expensive. We opted for two nets at $70.

3. Ruler - This shows how big they have to be and how to tell the difference between a male and a female. Will go into this more below.

4. Bucket - You need a bucket to hold and hide your crab. I will mention this below but it is very important that you do NOT put water in it when holding crab.

5. Gloves - Gardening or work gloves, but these guys can get feisty. You need to be able to grab the ones that are too small and throw them back.

6. Bait - Some people use fish guts but we found that chicken legs work the best.

Things you don't need but are nice to have are chairs and a cooler full of drinks!

So you have all your gear and are ready to set out on your first crabbing adventure. The following is everything you need to know to get started.

Where to Crab

You can crab in Bays, tide pools, piers and jetties year round. From October 16-November 30 it is illegal to crab from the ocean.

Specific spots? This is easily found on google for specific spots but find a Bay and look for a sign with a crab. Siletz Bay is good for first timers, as well as Alsea Bay in Waldport.

Timing month and tide

Most people will tell you to wait until a month that ends in R. September and October are great, but peak months are November and December. We have crabbed in May, June, July and August and have been successful.

The most important factor is going at high tide, or just an hour before.

Throw, Kayak, SUP, Boat

You have some options on how you Crab. Most people throw from the beach or pier, others will take out a boat, Kayak or SUP and drop their nets or cages with a bouy.

With whichever you choose to do, make sure you are clear of others bouys, sticks on the beach or place holders on the pier. Do not cross your lines with anyone else or go in between someone else's nets.


You have all your gear and found your spot throw out your net or cage. Cages can be left longer, but it's really all up to you.

Hopefully you will catch a crab pretty quick, but there are rules that you have to follow.

First determine if it is a male or female. The ruler that you have should help but here are the two examples:

Female - Throw Back. The shape in the center of its mass is very wide. The edges touch the claws.

Female [Throw back - Illegal to Keep]33andfree

Male - You can keep only if the body, not claws, reach a certain measurement. Which is why you have your ruler.

The males body without claws must reach the length on the ruler to keep. It is different for California, Oregon and Washington.

When you are crabbing there will definitely be locals around and others. It is a very social thing to do and everyone gets excited when there is a catch, and people will monitor you to make sure you measure and only keep the correct males and throw the females.


Each person has a limit of 12 per day.


Now hopefully you have a bucket full of Crab. REMEMBER, do NOT put water in your pale or chest as they will die.

As I mentioned before this is a very social event. In Lincoln City and Waldport we had a great time chatting with the locals. It was very refreshing considering you have a lot of internet trolls telling you not to come to Oregon, but if you are respectful and come as you are they very much will chat you up.

Cooking Your Crab

My last tip, is how to prepare and this will be quick. Ask any questions in the comments if you want more information.

The most ethical way to cook a crab is to boil water. To very much a boil and then put them in. It takes less than a couple seconds. Cook it for 15 minutes and take it out and put it in ice water for 10. Then crack it open and clean it thoroughly. It is then ready to eat! You can also chill it in the fridge and then eat it if you like cold crab.

To be honest, crabbing is a slightly difficult thing for me, even though I am a fish and meat eater. My husband and I have started to really appreciate the hunter, gather mentality. Farm raised does not mean good or better. We see the animal alive to when it is on our plate. We respect the process and the crab.

Remember to LEAVE NO TRACE. Pick up all your trash and anything left behind. Make sure to grab extra line and any extra netting.

Have fun!

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We became full time RVers in 2016 to explore the US. Now roaming in a van we highlight hikes, road trip attractions and free camping.


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