OUTDOORS: Delicious crab should be plentiful this season

By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News

PERHAPS MY GEOGRAPHIC bias clouds my opinion, but I've debated the merits of Dungeness crab against Alaskans and those in the “other” Washington (D.C.) who profess a love for blue crab.

Alaskan king crabs and snow crabs have always seemed a little bland to my taste buds.

I've only done the Chesapeake blue crab boil once.

It seemed like too much work for too little reward, topped off by way too much of the Old Bay seasoning.

Now, I'm no fool, if I was invited to a king crab feast, I'd bring my own bib.

But if I had a choice on what species of crab to crack, I'd go with Dungeness every time.

Coincidence can't be the reason that the scientific name for Dungeness crab, cancer magister, means “master crab” in Latin.

With crab season beginning on the North Olympic Peninsula on July 3, the choice will get easier for the crab fisher.

The season will run from Thursday, July 3 to Monday, Sept. 1 in Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Crabbing is allowed Thursdays through Mondays each week, and is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The daily limit is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 inches.

Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.

All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said recent test fisheries indicate that Dungeness crab remain abundant throughout Puget Sound.

“We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout the Sound,” Childers said.

“With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season.”

If you can't wait until July, head south to the waters of Marine Area 13, where an early crab opening is underway south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

“Sport crabbers in that area have fallen short of reaching their catch quota in recent years, so we can afford to give them more time to fish during the upcoming season,” Childers said.

Tests conducted by Fish and Wildlife in recent years have shown that crab in southern Puget Sound are in hard-shell condition by the start of June, allowing for an earlier starting date for the season in that area, Childers said.

Crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab.

Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

“Having crab in your possession that are not properly recorded on a catch card is a violation and could result in a fine,” Childers said.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast (marine areas 1-3 and west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line in Marine Area 4).

For more on the crab fishery, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab.

Mariners' Regatta

The 32nd annual Classic Mariners' Regatta will be held Friday through Sunday on Port Townsend Bay and at the Northwest Maritime Center in downtown Port Townsend.

One of the oldest boating events in the area, this series of sailboat races features wooden boats of all sizes and shapes.

Registered boats race twice Saturday, beginning at noon, and once Sunday, also at noon.

Rowers may participate in a rowing race Sunday morning at 9 a.m.

Sailors and their crew are invited to participate in a barbecue Saturday evening, and an awards ceremony will be held at the Northwest Maritime Center at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Cost for the event is $40, which includes all races, a skippers' meeting with coffee, and the Sunday night awards party.

The cost for Saturday night dinner is $15.

Racers may download an application at nwmaritime.org/cmr, pick up an application at the Northwest Maritime Center, or register at the center, 431 Water St., at 6 p.m. Friday.

No registrations can be accepted Saturday.

For more information, phone 360-385-3628, ext. 104.

Upgrade to combo license

Current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders can upgrade to a combination license at a reduced rate through July 20.

The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, state licensing manager.

Freshwater fishing license holders can purchase an upgrade to a combination license for $26.75, and current saltwater fishing license holders can upgrade to a combination license for $26.20.

There's plenty to go after in freshwater and saltwater this year.

Lakes are stocked with ample trout, rivers have hatchery steelhead, a healthy run of salmon is predicted to head this way and crab season starts soon.

Time to take advantage.


Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 05. 2014 9:21AM
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