Crabbing season is highly anticipated in the San Juan islands by locals and visitors alike. The season is open from July 15th through September 30th on Thursday through Monday, so guests chartering with San Juan Sailing and Yachting during this time should definitely take advantage of the opportunity! Prior to trying your hand at one of the Pacific Northwest’s favorite summer past times, everyone wishing to crab that is over the age of 16 needs to obtain a crabbing license. There is a chandlery within easy walking distance of our office. We can direct you when you arrive. Crabbers must also fill out and return a Catch Record Card when they return from their charter. This should be provided along with the crab license.
Anything that is smelly can be used as bait, but the most common bait items that people bring along is canned cat food or a bit of chicken that is past its prime. All of our charter boats have crab traps on board during crabbing season. There are two different types of crab traps available: active and passive. Passive traps are the most common in our fleet. These types of traps can be set and left all day long, because crabs can come into the trap but are unable to get out. They are usually attached to a buoy so you can find your trap after leaving it out all day. Active traps require a little bit more monitoring and are perfect if you plan to spend some time at an anchorage. These traps allow crabs to pass both in and out, so it must be brought up frequently and checked. All of the crabs you catch must be measured before they can be kept. Red rock crabs must be at least 5″ wide and there is a daily limit of 6 kept. Dungeness Crabs must be males that are at least 6.25″ wide, and there is a daily limit of 5 crabs kept.
Avid crabbers are unlikely to give away the location of their favorite crab spot, but if you keep an eye out for a cluster of buoys you’ve likely stumbled into a good spot. Crabs seem to prefer water that is around 30′ deep with a muddy bottom, so if one of your anchorages has those conditions, throw your crab pot overboard and see if you can catch dinner!