Catch More Dungeness crab in 2024!

On January 1st, I started my day with the usual French press coffee, a small omelet, opening my computer and logging into my ODFW profile to purchase my 2024 licenses. The first of the year is my tradition to take the day to reflect on the prior year, look ahead to new adventures, and ensure I have all the licenses to chase, salmon, trout, elk, deer, ducks, and of course the shellfish / crabbing license. A license in Oregon is $10, and it’s one license I utilize first in the year and all throughout.Crabbing has the longest season, other than fishing, and I make it my mission each year to crab better, enjoy each trip, and experiment with new baits, scents, locations and more. And you should do the same to catch more crabs. Take these crabbing tips into 2024 and make it the best year of crabbing!Cheap Bait – When I walk through the meat section at the store, I am always looking for deals. Buy one, get one free containers of chicken drumsticks. Cheap turkey or ham after the holidays. Throw away cuts of meat the butcher has in the back. I will even ask friends for free fish carcus to spend as little as possible on bait. Never pay for expensive crab bait. And when you find deals, load up the freeze and spend that money on other crabbing gear, like a new crab trap!Find the Slow Flow – Over the last few years using my underwater cameras, I have seen major differences in how crabs react and get into the crab traps with fast moving water versus slow moving water. The difference is crabs love the slower water. Crabs, like fish, don’t want to be thrashed around in fast moving water. As you survey the crabbing area, find those pockets or locations with the slower moving water. These will be high value target areas to focus and drop the crab gear.Stagger Trap Pickup Times – Once you drop a crab trap, the crabs will show up quickly! From 5 minutes to 20 minutes, I see crab traps and pots full within minutes. The old notion of let the traps soak for 30+ minutes no longer holds true when there are crabs galore. As you drop multiple traps and gear, stagger how long you leave the gear in the water and pick up. This way you will find how long you should soak the gear to maximize your keeper to trap pull ratio. Add an Attractant – More and more companies, both on big and small, are making crab attractants in the Northwest and across the country. One thing I love to do is brine crab bait (chicken) with an attractant each time out. Some work better than others, but brining bait with attractant always seems to catch more keepers. On the slower months of crabbing, March to August, attractants can be just the ticket. They may add to the cost of your bait and trip, but the payout of crab will always show true on the dinner table with that fresh Dungeness crab.

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