You don’t need to have a boat in order to catch dungeness crab on the Oregon coast, you will need crab traps or rings and some bait, but that is all that is required to get a few for dinner. There are several piers, docks, and bridges that provide excellent places to try your luck at crabbing. The best times of year to give it a go are generally from the middle of summer until the heaviest of winter rains are upon us in mid to late December. The areas that are most accessible for people bound to shore also tend to be in the bays which get inundated with fresh water which the crab naturally move away from as the rains get more intense. Going 2 hours before the high tide and staying until 1-2 hours after generally is the best time of day to give it a go, but some places you can leave your traps in overnight and be surprised with a loaded pot first thing in the morning. If you do not own your own crab rings there are a few places that will rent them for a nominal fee as well so even if you are just heading to the beach for the weekend you can still get out and relax at the pier and go crabbing.
What you will need:
1. Crab Pots – Most people will use crab rings which are best pulled every 15 – 20 minutes, however you can also use the square or circle pots that can be soaked for 45 minutes to overnight in between checks.
2. Crab Bait – Almost anything will work, the most common types of bait though are fish carcasses which can be purchased from some of the marinas and chicken is a popular alternative.
3. Measuring Stick – You can only keep male crabs that are at least 5 3/4 inch in size, the measure will have a picture of how to tell the difference between male and females and where to place the measure device to make sure you only keep legal sized ones.
4. A Bucket – You need to have something to keep your catch in so they do not walk away on you.
The following are a few of the most popular shore crabbing locations. There are others, but this should get you started.
Seaside, Oregon – 12th Street Bridge
An alternative location on Nehalem Bay that also has all of the carbbing supplies available to rent is Kelly’s Brighton Marina
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Both of the locations in Nehalem bay also offer boat rentals if you want to give it a try from the water for a half or full day.
Garibaldi, Oregon Tillamook Bay – Old Coast Guard Pier
The Garibaldi Marina rents boats for getting out into the bay and there is also a dock at the south end of the port area that is great for tossing a pot in the water.
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Newport, Oregon – The Newport Pier
If you have never participated in harvesting enough crab for a delicious sustainable Oregon Coast dinner than make sure and give this fun activity a try the next time you are vacationing at the beach. It is always rewarding to catch your dinner. If you are unfamiliar with cooking your catch ask around at the marinas as they often a crab cooker with boiling water and for a nominal charge they will cook your fresh crab for you. Otherwise a pot of boiling water and some sea salt does the trick, bring it to a boil and drop in the crab for 10 – 15 minutes. Cooking them whole is very acceptable way to process the crab. Like any delicacy there is a 101 ways to do it and if you enjoy the time crabbing and get out and do it more you can vary the way you cook and eat the crab, but a simple boil in salt water and melted butter for dipping is always a winner.