Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA - going for Dungies

Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA – going for Dungies

Dungies … aka Dungeness Crab is a favorite among Pacific Northwesterners, you’ll find it in many restaurants and if you’re lucky, you can catch your own.  It’s not hard but you do need some special equipment.

  1. A fishing license
  2. A surf casting rode and reel
  3. A castable crab trap
  4. Crab bait
  5. A crab measurer (yup, there is such a thing as a crab measurer).

In Washington State, you can fish for crab all year long in certain areas of the coast.  We’re lucky because Ocean Shores we can fish all year long.  Of course, sometimes of the year are better than others, and right now, it’s a very good time to fish.

Typically, crabbers (as people who catch crab are called) will go out during low tide and use their surf casting pole to cast their crab trap out into the ocean.  Bait is usually some type of chicken part (legs, wings or neck) or in our case, we search for cockles along the rock jetty and use the cockles.


Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA - going for Dungies
Cockles, used for bait

So, grab your surf casting pole and let’s go … hook the crab trap to your pole, remove the cockle meat from the cockle shell, put the bait into your crab trap and then cast it out into the surf.  It’s pretty big to cast so it may take you a few tries to get used to it.  The crab trap then floats to the bottom and lays open, the crab crawls onto the trap and you reel it in.  Once you start reeling, the trap closes up and the crab can’t escape.

Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA - going for Dungies
Castable Crab Trap

And just like fishing, you’ll notice the end of your rod bouncing a little bit if there’s a crab entering your trap, pull your pole up quickly to close the trap and then reel it in like crazy, keeping your line taut the whole way in.  If your line loosens at all, the trap will start to open and you could lose your crab.

The regulations state you can only keep 6 male dungeness crab (per day) and they must be at least 6.25 inches wide.  So, it’s important to know the difference between male and female crabs, but the good news is that it’s pretty easy to tell.

Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA - going for Dungies
Male on the left, Female on the right.
Dungeness Crab in Ocean Shores WA - going for Dungies
Handy dandy crab measurement tool

Then use your handy dandy crab measurement tool and if it’s bigger than 6.25 inches, you can keep it and take it home to eat!!!!  Yum

Thom’s been out the last three days and limited out every single time.  So, we have 18 crab in our freezer now, waiting for family to show up.  In order to freeze them, you do have to cook them, clean them and shell them prior to freezing but that’s not hard to do either.

There’s a ton of info online about cooking and cleaning Dungeness crab.  This is a particularly good link at explaining the process.  It’s not hard, but it can be time consuming.

So, I’m going to get myself a crab trap and use the surf casting pole and waders that Thom gave me for Christmas last year and I’m going out with him next time … I’ve always been a better fisher than he has, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be better at crabbing too.  Wish me luck.

Stay safe and keep making those memories