Do You Need a License to Crab in Texas? A Guide to Licensing Regulations

If you follow the rules, you can use these tools to catch fish and other aquatic life in public waters in Texas.

With its extensive coastline and abundant crab population, Texas is a top destination for crabbing enthusiasts However, before dropping your pots and nets, it’s crucial to understand Texas crabbing regulations, including licensing requirements So do you need a license to crab recreationally in Texas?

The short answer is yes. Texas law mandates having a valid recreational fishing license with a saltwater endorsement to crab without facing penalties. This applies when crabbing from shore, piers, boats, or any location where you’re targeting crab species like blue crabs, stone crabs, and spider crabs.

Below we’ll explore Texas crabbing license specifics in more detail, including:

  • Costs for residents and non-residents
  • Accepted license types
  • Where to purchase
  • Legal crabbing gear
  • Possession and size limits
  • Penalties for crabbing without a license

Let’s first look at license costs and options for Texas residents versus non-residents

Crabbing License Costs for Texas Residents

If you’re a Texas resident age 17 or older, you must have one of the following current fishing license options to legally crab recreationally:

  • Resident All-Water Fishing Package: $50 annually. Includes freshwater and saltwater coverage.

  • Resident Saltwater Fishing Package: $35 annually. For saltwater only.

  • Resident Combination Hunting & Fishing Package: $68 annually. Freshwater, saltwater, and hunting privileges.

  • Resident Year-from-Purchase All-Water License: $47 one-time purchase valid for 365 days from date activated.

  • Resident Senior All-Water License: $12 annually for seniors age 65+.

Texas residents can add a saltwater endorsement for $10 if their license only covers freshwater. Active military and disabled veterans receive discounts. Lifetime licenses are also available.

Crabbing License Costs for Non-Residents

For non-residents, here are the fishing license options valid for crabbing in Texas:

  • Non-resident All-Water Fishing Package: $58 for 5 days, $131 for 10 days, or $272 annually.

  • Non-resident Saltwater Fishing Package: $33 for 5 days or $63 for 10 days. No annual option.

  • Non-resident Year-from-Purchase All-Water License: $105 one-time purchase valid 365 days from activation date.

So non-resident fees are substantially higher, and options are more limited. The price may factor into your decision to crab in Texas versus your home state.

Accepted License Types

Along with the basic resident and non-resident fishing license packages covering saltwater, Texas also accepts the following licenses for recreational crabbing:

  • Hunting/fishing combination licenses
  • Freshwater packages with saltwater endorsement add-on
  • Temporary fishing licenses
  • Lifetime fishing licenses
  • Free fishing licenses issued to disabled veterans/military

Make sure any freshwater-only licenses have the saltwater endorsement before crabbing. And verify temporary licenses are current.

Where to Get Your Texas Crabbing License

You can purchase a recreational crabbing license in Texas from the following:

  • Online: Through the Texas Parks and Wildlife website or via their smartphone app.

  • In person: At various bait and tackle shops, sporting goods/outdoor stores, department stores, and other retail outlets.

  • By phone: Call 800-895-4248. Online is still easier for non-residents.

Be sure to carry your physical or digital license with you when crabbing as proof of compliance. Wardens can check for licenses at any time.

Legal Crabbing Gear Under Texas Regulations

Your license allows you to use specific devices and methods for recreational crabbing under Texas law, including:

  • Crab pots and traps
  • Crab nets
  • Trot lines
  • Crab snares
  • Collapsible crab traps
  • Dip nets
  • Minnow seines
  • Cast nets
  • Umbrella nets

Things prohibited for crabbing include explosives, poisons, spears, gaffs, and any methods that could damage habitat or harm other species.

Bag Limits and Other Crabbing Regulations

Along with having a license, adhering to rules on size limits, possession limits, and season restrictions is required:

  • Blue crabs must be 5 inches point-to-point. You can keep undersized crabs amounting to 5% of your catch for bait.

  • No egg-bearing female crabs.

  • Only one claw per stone crab.

  • Daily bag limit of 20 ghost shrimp where permitted.

  • Closed season from February 16-25 when crab traps cannot be placed or fished.

Check current regulations as they can change annually. Wardens do enforce rules!

Penalties for Crabbing Without a License in Texas

Crabbing in Texas without a valid license brings hefty penalties if caught. Depending on the specifics, you could face:

  • Class C misdemeanor – Up to $500 in fines

  • Seizure of catch, gear and equipment

  • Mandatory court appearance

  • Suspension or revocation of fishing privileges

Fines get much steeper for repeat offenses or commercial crabbing without proper licensing. Basically, it’s never worth the risk!

Key Takeaways – Crabbing License Requirements in Texas

  • All crabbers age 17+ in Texas need a fishing license with saltwater coverage.

  • Resident, non-resident, temporary, and combo licenses will suffice.

  • Prices range from $12 for residents to over $250 for non-residents.

  • Get licenses online, by phone, or at approved retailers.

  • Carry your license whenever crabbing as proof of compliance.

  • Follow all size limits, bag limits, gear rules, and seasonal restrictions.

  • Significant penalties exist for crabbing without a proper license.

Don’t let licensing slip your mind in your excitement to experience Texas crabbing. Acquire the necessary permit, adhere to regulations, and then enjoy a day catching blue crabs out on the water! With preparation and responsibility, you’ll have a fun, legal and safe crabbing adventure.

do you need a license to crab in texas

Crab Trap Construction and Design Restrictions

  • May not exceed 18 cubic feet.
  • Needs at least two escape holes in each chamber that holds crabs and on the outside walls of the trap.
  • Escape vents must be at least 2-3/8 inches in diameter.
  • Should have a white floating buoy that is at least 6 inches tall, 6 inches long, and 6 inches wide, with a contrasting 2-inch-wide stripe down the middle. This buoy must be attached to the crab trap.
  • Plastic bottles of any color or size cannot be used to make buoys or floats.
  • Must be equipped with a degradable panel. If any of the following methods were used to build the trap, it is said to have a degradable panel:
    • Some types of untreated jute twine, sisal twine, or steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or less hold one end of the trap lid tie-down strap in place. The trap lid needs to be held in place so that when the twine or wire breaks, the lid can’t stay shut.
    • The trap has at least one sidewall, excluding the bottom panel, with a rectangular opening that is at least 3 inches by 6 inches in size. Anything in this opening must be held in place by a single length of untreated jute twine, sisal twine, or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or less, knotted only at each end and not tied or looped more than once around a single mesh bar. It can’t be sewn, laced, or otherwise blocked. When the twine or wire breaks down, it will no longer block the opening in the trap’s sidewall; or
    • There can be no more than two untreated steel hog rings at the bottom of the opening that hold the obstruction loosely in place. There can also be no more than one length of untreated jute twine, sisal twine, or untreated steel wire with a diameter of 20 gauge or less that holds the obstruction in place at the top. When the twine or wire breaks, the obstruction will move down, letting the opening in the trap’s sidewall be used again.

Construction and Design Restrictions

  • From reel to sail, sail line can’t be longer than 1,800 feet.
  • To stay close to shore, the sail and the float must be bright orange or red. All other floats must be yellow. There can’t be any floats farther than 200 feet from the sail.
  • There must be a weight on the line that is at least 1 ounce and at least 4 feet or 6 feet from the closest float to the shore.
  • The sail and floats must have reflectors that are at least 2 square inches in size. They must be easily seen from all directions. This is true for sail lines that are used from 30 minutes after dark until 30 minutes before dawn.
  • May have no more than 30 hooks.
  • There is no hook spacing requirement.
  • Hooks can’t be put more than 200 feet away from the sail.
  • May be baited with either natural or artificial bait.

How to Buy a Fishing License in Texas | FishingBooker


Is there a crab season in Texas?

Here in Texas, we harvest blue crab year-round from shallow, brackish waters to the deeper, saltier bays of the Gulf. Our most bountiful harvest occurs in the warm summer and fall months, when blue crabs are their largest and populations are highest.

How to catch stone crabs in Texas?

Stone crabs are fished near jetties, oyster reefs or other rocky areas just as for blue crabs. Stone crabs have small bodies and only the claws are eaten. To be kept, claws must be two and one-half inches long, measured from the tips of the immovable finger to the first joint.

Do you need a license to catch blue crabs in Texas?

To make things clear and simple, the State of Texas requires us recreational crabbers to have a fishing license and a saltwater endorsement to catch blue crabs. You purchase these licenses on the TPWD (Texas Parks & Wildlife) website. However, there are several options to choose from, so it may get confusing.

Do you need a license to crab in Texas?

If you’re considering crabbing in Texas, be aware that regulations require obtaining a valid fishing license with a saltwater endorsement. It is important to note that if you are from out of state, a non-resident license is needed, and it can be quite costly.

Is crabbing illegal in Texas?

In addition to the fishing license and saltwater endorsement, there are specific regulations regarding crabbing in Texas. For instance, it is unlawful to place, fish, or leave a crab trap in the coastal waters of the state from February 16-25 .

How do I get a crabbing license in Texas?

To acquire a fishing license and a saltwater endorsement for crabbing in Texas, you can visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website or a local license retailer . The cost of the license varies depending on factors such as the applicant’s age, residency status, and the type of license .

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