Winter recreational crab fishing season opens Oct. 1 in many Puget Sound marine areas

News release

Contact: Don Velasquez, 425-725-3038
Media contact: Mark Yuasa, 360-902-2262

Reminder: Puget Sound summer catch record cards are required to be submitted by Oct. 1, doing so will avoid the fine

Dungeness crab fishing
Photo by Claire Young

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today that many Puget Sound marine areas will reopen for recreational crab fishing beginning Oct. 1.

Openings were approved based on preliminary harvest estimates using catch record card information from the 2023 summer season and what is expected to occur during the winter season.

Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 include:

  • Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line)
  • Marine Area 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point)
  • Marine Area 6 (East Strait of Juan de Fuca)
  • Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands)
  • Marine Area 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island, and Skagit Bay)
  • Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner)
  • Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet)
  • Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) portion north of Ayock Point only

In each area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Crabbers are reminded that setting or pulling traps from a vessel is only allowed from one hour before official sunrise through one hour after official sunset.

Crabbing will not immediately reopen for a winter season in Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton Area) or Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) unless managers can confirm, based on estimates from Catch Record Card (CRC) reports for the summer period, that enough quota remains to allow a winter fishery.

The portion of Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) south of Ayock Point and Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) will remain closed for the winter season due to ongoing conservation closures of all crab harvest in these areas.

Crabbers can still submit 2023 summer CRCs until Oct. 1 online or by mail to WDFW at CRC Unit, P.O. Box 43142, Olympia, WA 98504-3142. Crabbers who fail to submit their catch reports on time face a $10 fine when purchasing a 2024 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Learn more here about crab catch record cards.

“Even if you didn’t harvest any Dungeness crab from Puget Sound this year, or you received a card and didn’t end up crabbing at all, reporting your catch is important and helps better evaluate and manage future crabbing opportunities,” said Katelyn Bosley, WDFW’s Puget Sound crab and shrimp lead. “When data sets are incomplete or have incorrect data, we have to make conservative estimates about how many crab are caught, which could impact future crabbing seasons.”

Crabbers can test their skills at identifying different types of crab in Puget Sound and their understanding of regulations and best practices by taking the crabber knowledge quiz. Visit the WDFW recreational crabbing seasons and areas page to learn more.

The daily limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crabs, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. Crabbers may also keep six red rock crabs of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of five inches, and six Tanner crabs of either sex with a minimum carapace of 4 1/2 inches. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website.

Crabbers must have a Puget Sound Dungeness crab endorsement to harvest Dungeness crab from Puget Sound. All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31. Winter catch record cards are free to those with crab endorsements and are available at license vendors across the state. Winter catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb.1, 2024.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Request this information in an alternative format or language at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation, 833-855-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.