Will holding two Dungeness crabs

Summer Dungeness Crabbing Tips

Stand out and catch more crabs in the dog days of summer

Summer Dungeness crabbing is fun! During the summer growing up, my family would head to the Oregon Coast, and we would go out on my grandfather’s boat for some North Oregon Coast crabbing. Drop the crab pots off, come back to the dock for lunch, go back in the afternoon to see how many keepers we caught. Then it was a feast of sweet, delicious crab meat, melted butter, and plenty of chips and dip! Although the summertime Dungeness crabbing can be slow, it can be very rewarding. And to help you maximize your time on the water and catch a limit of Dungeness crabs in the summer, here’s my top 10 summer Dungeness crabbing tips:

Tip #10: Soak ‘Em Longer

With changing tides and fewer crabs around, you are better off leaving the gear a little longer to get a full pot. For rings and sliding traps, go 20 – 30 minutes between pulls to ensure you don’t run out of bait, which is longer than the 10-15 minutes I typically let that gear soak. And with pots, by leaving them a couple of hours or longer, you can get some really full pots, which will increase your chance at more keepers!

Tip #9: Bring Plenty of Bait

Sometimes in the summer, you will have to go through lots of bait before you get a half limit or limit of Dungeness crabs. And you never want to run out of bait while on the water. Bring plenty of bait and be prepared to move around, replenish the bait box having to go through lots of smaller crabs and female crabs before you find those keeper males.

Tip #8: Go Dark

In Oregon you can go crabbing 24 x 7, which means you can crab overnight and even leave the gear out overnight. For a beginner crabber, I would go with someone experienced to learn how to drive the boat at night, learn how to crab in the dark. But, the potential with the right tides and water could lead to some epic crabbing!

Tip #7: Make It a Combo

Not only could you go crabbing, but drop the soaking pots off, then grab the fishing rods and go fishing! This was one of my favorite things to do in the summer, especially when the chinook and coho salmon bites were picking up! Plus, it keeps kids entertained and ready to fight that big salmon.

Tip #6: Spread Out the Traps

With fewer crabs around in the summer, I would spread out your gear up and down the bay or spread out in the ocean or estuary. If you group the gear closer together and don’t land on the crabs, it can be a long, slow day. So spread them out, figure out where the keeper crabs are, then adjust the gear accordingly.

Tip #5: Don’t Be Afraid of Negative Tides

Everyone always gets nervous about negative tides and beaching the boat on sand. But, if you drive slow in the boat and take your time, you can navigate to the crabbing zones, drop the gear and maximize your time crabbing on the incoming tide. There will be less boats out, which will give you an opportunity for better crabbing.

Tip #4: Go Early, Leave Early

Once the tide starts to come into the bay, have your gear out. Maximize your time closer to where the bay and ocean meet up. And by going early, you avoid the boat launch crowd, get your gear where you want it, and you get first crack at the crabs. It can pay off with more keepers right away. So don’t be late!

Tip #3: Experiment with Different Baits

Summer crabbing is slower than the fall or winter. But this is when you can experiment with different crab baits, see if there’s an odd bait like duck legs, cat food, that the crabs may like more. Just try something different. You can learn and see if the crabs like the bait or if you found the lottery ticket bait of the day for fast limits!

Tip #2: Be Mindful of Crabbing Locations

In the summer, I have a handful of high producing spots I like to crab. With fewer crabs around, some of those spots that produce in the fall won’t have as many crabs, especially one’s farther away from the inlet. So pick those high percentage spots when crabbing.

Tip #1: Crab Deep Waters

The waters warm up. Less water around. The crabs will start to move toward deeper waters, especially huggin the bottom in sand and mud to not get tossed around on big tide swings or negative tides. So find those deeper waters, and you will find the crabs!!

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