When Does Crab Season Open? A Guide to Crab Seasons Across the U.S.

Crab is a cherished delicacy across the United States, from Dungeness crab in the Pacific Northwest to blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. Many look forward to crab season opening each year to enjoy fresh caught crab. But when exactly does crab season open? Here is a guide to crab seasons across the U.S.

Crab Seasons on the West Coast

Dungeness Crab

The Dungeness crab is a popular crab species found along the west coast of the U.S. Dungeness crab season generally opens in early December in Washington, Oregon and California. However, the opening date can vary by location and is determined by crab size and quality.

In Washington the coastal crab season opens December 1st. For Puget Sound, the summer crab season typically opens July 1st and the winter crab season opens sometime between December and January depending on testing for hardshell crabs. Crabbing is open Thursdays through Mondays in most areas.

In Oregon Dungeness season opens December 1st from Tillamook Head to the OR/CA border. From the Columbia River to Tillamook Head the season opens January 1st.

In California, the season opens mid-November to early December from Mendocino County north. South of Mendocino County, the season opens mid-November.

Stone Crab

Stone crab can be found along the Pacific coast. However, the species is more common in its core range from the Gulf Coast of Florida to North Carolina. The stone crab fishery is managed by the states.

In Florida, the recreational and commercial stone crab season opens October 15th and closes May 1st. Traps can be placed starting ten days prior to the opening. Only the claws can be legally harvested.

Blue Crab

The blue crab is found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The blue crab fishery is managed by each state.

In Washington, there is no set blue crab season. Crabbing for blue crab is open year round in marine areas 1-13. All crabbers age 15 and up require a shellfish license.

In Oregon, crabbing for blue crab is open year round coastwide. A shellfish license is required for age 12 and up.

On the East Coast, Virginia and Maryland have some of the most robust blue crab fisheries. In Virginia, the winter dredge season runs December 1st – March 31st. The summer crab pot season opens March 17th and closes November 30th. In Maryland, the recreational crabbing season is open April 1st through December 15th.

Gulf Coast Crab Seasons

The Gulf of Mexico is known for its blue crabs and stone crabs.

As mentioned above, Florida’s recreational stone crab season opens October 15th and runs through May 1st.

The blue crab season opens year round in Florida. There is a 5 crab daily recreational bag limit. Blue crab regulations vary by county for commercial fishing.

Louisiana’s blue crab season is open year round for both recreational and commercial crabbing. Blue crab is a popular seafood in Louisiana, known for crab boils and dishes like jambalaya.

The blue crab season in Texas runs year round as well. Recreational crabbers are required to have a general fishing license.

Chesapeake Bay Crab Seasons

The Chesapeake Bay shared by Maryland and Virginia has one of the most famous blue crab fisheries.

In Maryland, the blue crab season runs April 1st through December 15th recreationally. Maryland requires all recreational crabbers using anything other than handlines to get a free permit. The minimum size is 5 inches.

The Virginia blue crab season opens March 17th for recreational potting and closes November 30th. The winter dredge season is open December 1st through March 31st. Virginia requires a saltwater fishing license for crabbing.

Frequency of Entities:
Stone Crab: 1
https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/crab: 1
https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/stone-crab/: 1

when does crab season open

Requirements for Recreational Traps

People 16 and older who fish for fun must fill out a free online recreational stone and/or blue crab trap registration form before they can use stone or blue crab traps. This includes people who don’t normally need a license.

To register, visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com and add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration or the Recreational Blue Crab Trap Registration to your fishing license account.

When the job is done, each person will be given a unique trap registration number that must be written on each trap along with the full name and address of the owner. For stone crab traps, the registration number starts with the letter “S.” For blue crab traps, it starts with the letter “B.” ” This information must be legible and must be permanently attached to each trap.

With this free registration, FWC can get important data about these recreational fisheries that will be used for future stock assessments and management decisions.

Harvesters younger than 16 don’t have to sign up, but they do have to put their name and address on their traps.

Minimum Size Limit: 2 7/8 inches; only claws may be harvested.

Daily Bag Limit: 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.

Harvest from egg-bearing crabs prohibited.

State Waters Harvest Seasons: Open Oct. 15 – May 1 (closed on May 2)

There are 10 days before the season starts that you can put traps in the water, but you can’t touch them until the season starts. That’s when you can start harvesting.

Gear Requirements:

  • Legal Gear: stone crab trap (max. 5 per person), dip or landing net.
  • Gear that is against the law includes anything that can pierce, crush, or hurt the crab body, like spears, grains, grabs, hooks, or other similar tools.
  • The largest trap that can be used is 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches, which is 8 cubic feet.
  • Traps can be made from either wood, wire or plastic
  • The opening or throat has to be 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches.
  • In Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade counties, the throat can’t be more than 5 1/2 inches by 3 1/8 inches.
  • If the entrance or throat is round, it can’t be bigger than 5 inches across.
  • Round throats prohibited in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties
  • The trap must have a 7-inch-by-3-inch panel made of cypress or untreated pine slats that can break down. The panel can’t be thicker than ¾ of an inch.
  • On a vertical side of the trap, wire traps must have at least three clear escape rings that are 2 3/8 inches in diameter.
  • NEW: All recreational and commercial plastic or wood stone crab traps must have an unobstructed escape ring 2 3/16 inches in diameter for the 2023–24 stone crab season. There are no location requirements. For the 2024–25 stone crab season and beyond, all recreational and commercial plastic or wood stone crab traps must have an unobstructed escape ring 2 3/16 inches in diameter inside a vertical exterior trap wall.
  • Each recreational trap must have the harvester’s name, address, and a unique registration number permanently attached and easy to read.
  • The buoy can’t be less than 6 inches across and must have a 2 inch-tall “R” on it that can be read.
  • If you fish from a dock, you don’t need buoys.
  • Traps must be pulled manually (not by a trap-puller). If your boat has a trap-puller on it, it will be considered a commercial boat, and you will need the right licensed.
  • Traps must be pulled only during daylight hours.
  • There are certain areas where traps are not allowed. These areas include the Intracoastal Waterways and areas that are maintained and marked by any county, municipal, state, or federal government agency.

Special regulations apply for traps and this species when in Biscayne National Park.

California regulators delay start to Dungeness crab season


When can you go crabbing in Washington state?

Recreational crabbing is open year-round on the Washington Coast, but pot gear season closes in several areas for a portion of September, October, and November to reduce soft-shell crab mortality. Crab snares and foldable traps are legal during this time, as are ring nets that lie completely flat on the bottom.

Is crab season open in CA?

Dungeness Crab Avoid setting traps in areas where whales are present, and follow best practices for using crab traps(opens in new tab). The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab(opens in new tab) (Metacarcinus magister) is open from November 4, 2023 through July 30, 2024 in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

When can you crab in Georgia?

Unless otherwise designated, the saltwaters of Georgia are open year-round for recreational crabbing at any time of day. and address in 1-inch letters. Traps should be sufficiently weighted to prevent loss in strong tidal currents.

When can you crab in New Jersey?

Fish Species
Open Season
Possession Limit
Blue Crab, Hard
Mar 15 – Nov 30
1 Bushel
Bluefish (Snapper)
Year Round
3 per person 5 per person from charter vessel
Clam, Hard
Year Round
150 Clams No harvest on Sunday Shellfish license required
Year Round
1 per vessel

When is crab fishing season open?

Winter season is open daily October 1 through December 31. NOTE: All crab fishing gear must be removed from the water by one hour after sunset on the last day of any fishing period. Crab fishing gear may not remain in the water on closed days. Dungeness, Red Rock, Tanner Crab, all fishing methods. Must retain back shell while in the field.

When does crab season start in Florida?

Crab season runs Oct. 15-May 1, two weeks shorter than in past years, and the state has upped the claw size minimum to combat overfishing. [ SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times ] The Florida stone crab season opens Friday, which means fresh claws may start showing up on dinner menus and in specialty stores as early as Saturday.

When is crab crabbing open?

Bays, beaches, estuaries, tide pools, piers and jetties are open for crabbing all year, 24 hours per day. Ocean waters are closed for crab Oct 16-Nov 30. Daily limit of 35 of any size or sex. Bay, beaches, estuaries, tide pools, piers and jetties are open for crabbing all year, 24 hours per day. Ocean waters are closed for crab Oct 16-Nov 30.

Can you fish crab on closed days?

Crab fishing gear may not remain in the water on closed days. Dungeness, Red Rock, Tanner Crab, all fishing methods. Must retain back shell while in the field. Must release all soft-shell, females and undersized crab. Catch record card required. Must retain back shell while in the field.

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