The Best Time to Go Dungeness Crabbing

When I was a young boy, I asked my grandfather ‘when was the best time to go crabbing?’ His response: “any time is a good time to go crabbing!” Although I didn’t quite understand what he meant at the time, I’ve become more wise in my crabbing adventures and knowledge of how the water impacts crabbing, especially crabbing within a bay.In general, the rule of thumb is always to crab the incoming tide. Crabs come in and out of bays along the coast on those tide changes from the ocean. On the incoming tides, crabs flush into the bays looking for food. I love to put my traps out right at low tide or about 30 minutes before low tide starts. This way the bait and trap has time to soak and the crabs have time to come into the bay and find my bait.Now, I am a big proponent of the square traps which hold the keeper crabs inside the trap, and I love to drop those traps into the water 30 minutes before or right at low tide. If you crab with rings or slip traps, I generally put those traps in the water right at or just after low tide. Over the years I have found better success right at low tide rolling all the way to high tide. The openness of those crab traps make it much more difficult to catch crabs on an outgoing tide vs. a traditional square trap. Very rarely on the outgoing tide have I caught big numbers of crabs. The outgoing tide flushes the crabs out of the bay, and they are headed back to the ocean versus staying around for a meal of fish, chicken or your crab bait of choice. Now can you crab the outgoing tide? Absolutely. But 90%+ of the crabs you will catch will be on the incoming tide change.I love being on the water and crabbing, so of course I would say any time is a good time to go crabbing. Although the tides would say differently. Crab incoming tides and your crab dinners will be full of piles of Dungeness crabs!

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