Will holding two crabs caught from shore.

Late Winter Dungeness Crab Tips

Here comes the rain, the wind, the waves, and some winter crabbing. Although fall tends to be peak dungeness crabbing season, you can find plenty of big, healthy crabs during the winter months. I love winter crabbing because fewer crabbers are out on the water, you have an opportunity to try different baits, and enjoy a weekend away on the coast enjoying fresh crab with some melted butter and a fine beverage. While you may have to wait for calmer weather, and always avoid crabbing king tides, a few key tactics and tips will help you find more dungeness crabs in the winter.
Tip #1 – Find Slower Moving Water. The crabs will avoid the faster flowing water as they do not like getting thrashed around in the bay. So as you prepare to drop your crab pots or crab from the shore, find those lines and pockets of slower water, and drop gear.
Tip #2 – Try a Variety of Baits. I find the winter-time as my research lab for odd baits to see how they will perform. Crabbing with duck legs, cans of dog food, bacon, mink, and even odd fish carcass can be just that one different bait to find the big keeper crabs. But also a way to see what works and doesn’t work to try during other times of the year.
Tip #3 – Move Gear Frequently. If you don’t get any keepers or just a few crabs in the trap, move locations. Each crabbing bay can have those productive areas, but if they don’t produce, you don’t have to keep putting the gear there. Pick up the trap, move it up or down the bay. And if you find a trap full of females, you must move spots. You will find huge clusters of females together winter crabbing, so a trap full of females indicates you should pick up, move spots.
Tip #4 – Watch the Rain Forecasts. One of the biggest factors to finding keeper crabs in the winter is fresh rain water in the bay. Days of significant rain will keep the crab out in the ocean with the salt water. Fresh water is not your friend, and not the crabs friend. So keep an eye out on the rain forecast, and avoid crabbing days right after significant rain. A little rain isn’t terrible, but any significant rainfall will make crabbing difficult.

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