OLYMPIA – The recreational crab fishery in Hood Canal will open at 7:00 a.m. June 1, six weeks earlier than the traditional opening date for the pot fishery, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The fishery will be open four days per week – from one hour before official sunrise on Fridays through one hour after official sunset on Mondays – until further notice. Recreational crab fishing will be prohibited on all other days.
Recreational crab fishers may take all crab species by all legal methods, including crab pots, ring nets, wading and scuba diving.
Therese Cain, WDFW shellfish biologist, said the season represents a significant departure from previous years when the fishery did not open until mid-July and ran seven days per week.
Noting that test results show that Hood Canal crab are currently in hardshell condition, Cain said the new approach is designed to give crab fishers a longer season while also meeting resource management objectives.
"People who attended public meetings on the crab fishery in spring expressed a strong desire for a full-length season when the crab are in hardshell condition," Cain said. "By reducing the number of fishing days each week, we can accomplish that goal without exceeding the annual recreational crab allocation."
The open area includes all waters of Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) and the portion of Marine Area 9 north of the Hood Canal Bridge and south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point.
Under WDFW regulations, crab gear may not be placed in the water prior to one hour before official sunrise on Fridays and must be out of the water by one hour after official sunset on Monday evenings after each four-day fishing period.
Fishers are reminded that crab pots, star traps and ring nets may not be tended from a vessel at night.
Cain said a conservative approach is necessary at the start of the season until an in-season estimate of the crab catch is available that includes data from the recently implemented crab Catch Record Cards. Once the in-season data are available in late September, the season structure will be re-evaluated and adjustments made if necessary.
Cain urged crab fishers to record their crab catch on their Catch Record Cards, noting that an accurate assessment of recreational crab harvest is essential for proper management of the resource.
Crabbers should refer to WDFW's 2001-02 Fishing in Washington pamphlet for current regulations on daily bag and size limits, gear requirements and other applicable rules regarding crabbing in Hood Canal.