Catching Dungeness on the Oregon Coast is a year-round sport in the estuaries, coastal rivers and tidal bays. In the Dungeness Crab on the Oregon Coast ocean, crab season is closed from August 15th through November 30th. The best weather to go in is mild to sunny weather. Sustained rains bring fresh water. They are salt-water creatures and heavy rains force them out to sea because of the sudden lack of salt water.
To stay on the right side of the law, you need to get yourself a license if you are 14 and over. The licenses are not that expensive (call the local chamber of commerce for prices) and they are available for three day or year long. This is for both in-state and out-of-state residents.
Legally, you can only keep the males. The females must be let go. You can determine a male from a female by checking their underside. Males have thin tail-like piece while the females have a round, wide piece. It’s pretty easy to tell them apart once you see them both. The measurement of the crab will also determine a keeper. As long as the male crab measures five and three fourths inches across the back of the shell, not including the points, consider him dinner!
Now, the adventure begins! Crabs are usually caught by using crab rings or crab pots. You can have up to three of these devices per person. Lower the baited (use chicken, fish, turkey, etc) rings or pots into the water, wait about 5 – 7 minutes, pull them up and see what you have. If you come up empty handed, move them to a different spot and try again. The ideal spots are ones with very little current. You can leave the crab pots in the water for a bit longer than the rings. The local bait shops in town will be able to hook you up with the gear you need. Once caught, they need to be cooked as soon as possible, preferably within the hour. The catch limit is 12 per day.
Once you taste a juicy, Dungeness crab recipe, you will think you have died and went to heaven!