HOW TO: CRABBING

Waldport, OR

 Destination: Dock of the Bay Marina / Location: Waldport, Oregon / Activity: Crabbing / Cost: $80 per boat for 3 hours
 This year at our family reunion we did something a little different. We went crabbing! It was originally a "boys outing" while the girls stayed at the beach house, but I was able to go and have some fun while Van was being watched by his Auntie's and Grandma. We woke up at the crack of dawn when the air was still foggy, just how I like it on the Oregon coast. We gathered our rented crabbing supplies, picked our crews and captain, and headed out to sea for a few hours to see who could catch the most crabs! If you've never crabbed before, here are a few tips we learned along the way.
Attach bait to cage. This looks pretty nasty, like some sort of ferret or musk rat, but you should have seen it after the crabs picked away at it. Using gloves would be preferable, but we found it too bulky so my brother just went for it. We had at least two people per boat with crabbing licenses so they could handle the crabs and equipment. Note a crabbing/shell fish license costs around $7-20 depending on if you are an Oregon resident or not.
Drop cages. After the bait was secure we tossed our crab cages into the water! Each cage is marked by a buoy for you to retrieve after about 20 minutes of waiting for the crabs to take the bait. If you're patient enough you can wait even longer to get a cage full of crabs of all sizes which very well may be worth the time, but we were on a schedule so we formed a sort of obstacle course and picked up the cages along the way.
Retrieve crabs and measure. When crabbing there are rules you have to follow. You can only keep males and they have to be large. This handy yellow tool is used to measure the crab shell from one point to the other, and it needs to touch both sides. If it doesn't fit, toss it back into the ocean! The bigger the crab, the older it is. Each male is marked with a triangle shape on its belly, which you can see in the photo below. Females do not have this marking which makes it easy to tell them apart. We also learned that when storing your crabs on boat, do not fill your bucket with water! Somehow they survive longer this way. 
Count crabs. After you've hit your limit, you can count your crabs! We found crabbing to be much more successful by boat than by docks. The crabs near the docks tend to be much smaller and you just don't catch near as much. Local crabbers were so friendly about giving us tips and pointing us towards the "good pods" to crab. Some even tossed a few of their keepers into our bucket! We went home with plenty of crabs for everyone.... mmm mmm!

After a crabbing trip, you should cook and eat your catches as soon as possible. They will taste better this way! Some Marinas offer to cook your catches on site, but it comes at a cost per dozen crabs. We cooked some of our crabs ourselves, but since we were renting a beach house we found it easier to just have them cook them for us. That night for dinner we ate our fresh cooked crabbies seasoned and buttered to perfection! It may take time to break the shell and get to the meat, but it's worth it. What a tasty meal, and even better when it's your own catch!
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4 comments on HOW TO: CRABBING

  1. Oh, That looks like such fun! The crab catching culture is just not the same in South Africa. I'm hoping to get up to the west coast on my next cruise ship contract. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Wow, I would love to go crabbing. Seems like fishing but a lot less messier! :)
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  3. God they're huge! I'm not too big a fan of crabs (to be honest they freak me out a bit), but the whole "trip" seems cool. :-)

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