OLYMPIA - All areas of Puget Sound will close to recreational crab fishing at sunset Jan. 2, after which all sport crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Sound will have 13 days to report their winter catch.
State fishing rules require that all sport crabbers submit catch reports for the winter season to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Jan. 15 - even if they did not catch any crab. The winter crab season runs from Sept. 2 to Jan. 2.
"Catch reports are an important tool in managing the Puget Sound crab fishery," said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish policy lead. "We need to hear from everyone - including those who didn't catch any crab - because more information provides greater accuracy in estimating the catch and developing future fishing seasons."
To submit their catch reports, crabbers may either send their catch record card to WDFW by mail, or file their report on a special webpage on the department's licensing website. Catch record cards may be mailed to WDFW CRC Unit, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501-1091. The online reporting system will be available Jan. 2-15 at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ .
Sport crabbers who file their catch reports by the Jan. 15 deadline will be entered in a drawing for one of 10 free combination fishing licenses, which allow the holder to fish for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species during the 2009-10 season.
Puget Sound crabbers should also be aware of two important changes that will occur starting with the next crab season, Childers said. First, crabbers who fail to report their 2009 summer or winter catch will be required to pay $10 before a license vendor will issue a new catch record card for the 2010 Puget Sound crab season. Second, crabbers will have the option to decline receiving a winter catch card when purchasing their 2009 fishing license. This will help them avoid a fine for not reporting a winter catch, Childers said.