Best Crabbing in Seattle
Upon moving to Washington, I quickly discovered Golden Gardens Beach Park as the best crabbing spot in Seattle.
With the crabbing season spanning from July-September in the Seattle area, take a trip to your local outdoor equipment store and gather the following items:
- A license, shellfish licenses will run you around $20, make sure to get the Dungeness crabbing add-on so you can keep the big ones. You can get these online on the Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife or at Outdoor Emporium directly.
- A ring (or "hoop")- I found a sturdy one with rope already set up for less than $20 which was worth it, because you need the ring and the rope combined to make your setup like mine. Try to find a ring that already has the rope attached and set up.
- A place that you can tie up and begin crabbing from. A pier or dock preferably, or a boat if you have access. I chose a pier because it was easy and hassle free.
- Bait cage- This is the tiny plastic netting cage you put the raw chicken or bait you select into. They cost about $2. You can see how mine is attached in the bottom ring on the picture to the right.
- Zip ties. Used to secure the bait cage and repair netting when needed.
- A bucket. For the crabs of course. The 5 gallon collection seems to be the superb option.
- Gloves or Crabbing Prongs to pick these feisty creatures up without losin' a finger. The experts use their hands, but I'm a chicken. I use the crab gloves from Outdoor Emporium, and they've been perfect.
-Newspaper for wrapping crabs in on the way home.
- Towel or a handful of hand towels. These are damped and placed on top of the crabs wrapped in the newspaper in order to keep them alive on the way home.
- Knife, or utility knife. Just in case.
- Bait. Raw chicken has worked for me. Anything that will give off a scent. Fish guts, a can of cat food with holes punctured in it, etc.
- Crabbing ruler. This checks for legal size crabs to keep. In Seattle, you can currently keep both male and female Red Rock crabs over 5' across on the back and Dungeness male's over 6' across the back.
Male and females can be easily told apart by the area on their bellies.
- Optional but recommended. Friends, a chair, beverages, and snacks.
Now we are ready to try out the best crabbing spot in Seattle!
First set your ring up by attaching the bait trap to the bottom netting with zip ties. Secure the bait in the trap and prepare for launch. TIE OFF your ring/hoop rope to the pier so your whole setup doesn't go flying into the water all at once. Now, after secured, and secured WELL, hold both rings flat out like a frisbee and toss outwards and evenly into a spot that is not cluttered with other fishers and crabber lines. Make sure it sinks to he bottom by checking the slack and...
Now we play the waiting game, remember- this is truly the best crabbing spot in Seattle.
Most people check every half hour, but I check it every 10-15min because I have A.D.D. and I like the action. This is all up to you. You can go get a hot dog, kick it on the beach, or skip some stones... no one is gunna steal your net (at least I've never seen that happen).
Now, when you pull the net up, pull up the rope smooth and SWIFT so nothing can escape.
This guy was barely big enough to keep. Use your ruler and check size. You can tell the Red Rock Crabs apart from the Dungeness Crabs by color. Red Rock crabs are red of course and have black tipped claws. Dungeness are more blue grey in color, and they are usually much bigger.
When pulling the crabs out of your net, make sure to grab them from behind so they can't pinch you and make sure to keep the top ring raised around them while you pull them out so they can't escape (these little ninjas are escape artists).
Gather some keepers, I usually end up with 4 or 5 in a short afternoon, but you could end up with much more. I place the crabs in water in the bucket until its time to leave. When you plan on leaving, pour your water out and wrap each crab individually in newspaper. Place damp towels on top of them to keep them slightly hydrated and alive until you get home. This works surprisingly well. Remove the crabs the minute you get home and cook to your liking. There are thousands of online sources regarding various cooking methods, so take your pick and enjoy the benefits of the best crabbing spot in Seattle!