Will holding two crabs, one in each hand.

Fall Dungeness Crabbing Tips (and Gear Prep)

I love the crisp and cool fall weather. It’s prime time not only for fishing, but going after Dungeness crabs. Heading out to the waters and smelling the fresh salty air, I love dropping the pots, and pulling up full traps with 3, 4, 5, and sometimes 15 keeper dungeness crab! But to have the most success crabbing this fall (or the next fall), here are 6 fall crabbing tips and gear prep tips for you.Tip #1 – Mix Chicken and Fish for BaitSea lions can be out in abundance looking for an easy meal in any bay in the fall. And sea lions love going after fish. To avoid the attraction of sea lions, put a mix of chicken and fish as crab bait in the same trap. I use a 2:1 chicken to fish ratio to ensure I have more chicken to avoid attracting the sea lions. When mixing baits in the trap, I have found more than average success pulling traps with multiple keepers. A crab trap just full of fish will So put a mix of chicken and fish into the bait box, then get ready for a full trap of crabs!Tip #2 – Use Crab AttractantI am a huge proponent of crab attractant. Brined fish and chicken has always out-caught just regular bait for dungeness crabs. Grab a ziplock bag, load it with bait and some attractant from an hour prior to crabbing up to 24 hours in advance. Pro tip: defrost bait from the freezer the day prior so the attractant to soak into the bait. My 3 favorites attractants are Smelly Jelly, Pro-Cure Crab Attractant, and McKay Fish Oil!Tip #3 – Spread Out Your Traps in the BayIf you haven’t gone crabbing in awhile, spread out the traps, find where the keepers are hanging out, then move the gear around. Don’t place your traps in a small area. If the crabs aren’t there, you may be missing out…Tip #4 – Go Early!The crowds can be crazy in the fall! Go crabbing early to avoid the heavy boat traffic and get those early and quick limits. I plan to launch the boat or hit the dock 30 minutes prior to low tide to maximize the early incoming tide. But going at first light, you can get ahead of the crowd, get a limit or two, then get off the water before breakfast.Tip #5 – Check Your Gear Before Going!The zip ties, crab trap roles, buoys, bait trap, and the structure of the crab trap/pot. Every fall I do a gear check up and down the trap to ensure everything is ready to go. And each year, I have found something to fix that prevents losing a trap or having gear fail. Doing a quick check in 5 minutes or less can help you from spending hundreds on new gear, don’t ask me how I know!Tip #6 – Go Have Fun!Big keeper crabs, full crab traps, and a delicious self-harvested dinner. Go out crabbing, go have fun, make it a family outing, and make new memories on the water!

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