Crab seasons and areas

Crabbing in Puget Sound
Danny Garrett

Crabbing is one of Puget Sound’s most popular recreational fisheries. Each year, sport fishers catch more than a million pounds of Dungeness crab, using pots, ring nets, and – in the case of wade and dive fishers – their bare hands.

Before you go, make sure you have the proper license (and the proper catch record card, if you're crabbing for Dungeness crab in Puget Sound), and learn more about each of the types of crab you can catch along the Washington coast:

Regulations

All sport crabbers 15 years or older must carry a current Washington fishing license. Options range from an annual shellfish/seaweed license to combination fishing licenses, valid for a single day or up to a year.  

In addition, all sport crabbers -- regardless of age -- who fish for crab in Puget Sound must get a crab endorsement on their license carry and complete catch record cards to account for all Dungeness crab they catch. They also must return their catch record cards or report online even if they did not go crabbing or catch any crab. The deadline for returning summer and winter catch cards is printed on each catch card.  If crabbers fail to return their catch card they will be required to pay a $10 fine before they can purchase another crab endorsement .

Recent changes in the reporting system now in effect:

  • Two-card reporting system: All sport crabbers fishing in Puget Sound are required to report their Dungeness crab catch on separate summer and fall/winter catch record cards at the end of each season. The new cards are separate from the multi-species card used for recording catches of salmon, halibut and other fish. People of all ages who have a crab endorsement and received a catch record card are required to make a report even if they did not go crabbing or catch any crab.
     
  • Online reporting: Sport crabbers can either report their information through WDFW's online licensing system or mail their catch cards to the address on this page. The website address for reporting crab catches is printed on the catch record card along with reporting deadlines. 
     
    The reporting site will only accept catch reports during two time periods.  Summer Catch Record Cards can only be entered from Labor Day through Oct. 1.  Winter Catch Record Cards can only be entered from Jan. 1 through Feb. 1. The reporting site will allow you to view your reporting history at any time.
     
  • No coastal reporting: Catch record cards are required for those fishing for Dungeness crab along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, which includes marine area 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and marine areas 5-13. They are not required along the coast, which includes marine areas 1-3 and marine area 4 (west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line). 
     
  • Failure to report penalty: If crabbers fail to report their summer or winter harvest, they will be assessed a $10 penalty with the following year's license purchase.

Catch record cards must be returned to WDFW at the end of both the summer and fall/winter seasons. Crabbers have several options for reporting their catch information. They can report online, drop the cards off at a WDFW regional office, or mail them to:

​​​Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
WDFW CRC Unit, 
PO Box 43142, 
Olympia, WA 98504-3142

Fishery managers rely on individual catch record card reports to estimate recreational harvest and to set future crabbing opportunities. By completing catch record cards, fishers play a vital role in maintaining sustainable harvest opportunities.

Seasons and areas

Marine Area Crab area Status Days open Season dates
1 South Coast/Pacific Ocean OPEN Everyday Year-round
1 Columbia River OPEN Everyday Year-round
2 Westport/Ocean Shores OPEN Everyday Year-round
2 Willapa Bay - Area 2-1 OPEN Everyday Year-round
2 Grays Harbor - Area 2-2 OPEN Everyday Year-round
3 LaPush OPEN Everyday Year-round
4 Neah Bay - East of Tatoosh-Bonilla line OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
4 Neah Bay - West of Tatoosh-Bonilla line OPEN Everyday Year-round
5 Sekiu and Pillar Point OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
6 East Juan de Fuca Strait, Port Angeles Harbor, Discovery Bay OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
7 South - San Juan Islands/Bellingham OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 11 - Sept. 30, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
7 North - Gulf of Georgia OPEN Thursday - Monday only Aug. 15 - Sept. 30, 2019. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week.
8-1 Deception Pass - Area 8-1 OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
8-2 Port Susan/Everett - Area 8-2 OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
9 Port Gamble/Port Ludlow OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
9 Admiralty Inlet OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
10 Seattle/Bremerton CLOSED None This area closed on Aug. 3, 2019.
11 Tacoma-Vashon Island CLOSED None Closed
12 Hood Canal - North of Ayock Point OPEN Thursday - Monday only July 4 - Sept. 2, 2019. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday each week.
12 Hood Canal - South of Ayock Point CLOSED None Closed to promote recovery of Dungeness crab in south Hood Canal.
13 South Puget Sound CLOSED None Closed