Fishing and Crabbing
Crabs ‘R’ us!
Crabbing is a favorite year-round pastime at the Central Coast, but it is at its best in months which contain an “R”!
There are two ways to fill your cooler with succulent Dungeness crab. The sure-fire method of sailing with a local charter operator on a crab-fish combo will deliver a limit of superior Dungies plus baskets of ocean-fresh rock fish.
Brave crabbers who strike out on their own will find rich and productive crabbing spots hidden along the bays, estuaries, beaches, tide pools, piers and jetties that dot the area’s coastline.
With these secret tips from old-timers, you can fill your kitchen sink with limit amounts of Dungeness and Red Rock crabs akmost anytime.
It’s a sport all can enjoy, whether from boat or dock. There are as many rules for crabbing as there are crabbers on how long to leave a crab ring in the water, what kind of bait to use and the type of trap which is most effective. There is one rule, however, which is firm: you can only harvest male Dungies measuring at least 5-3/4 inches from inside the points on the crab’s back. The gender is established by checking the breast plate — check the ODFW regulations for an explanatory diagram
Most who practice the sport check the bottom depth at low tide to see where the shoals and holes are in Yaquina bay. Others have boats equipped with depth finders to aid in finding the spots where their quarry is likely to hole up. Most of those with depth finders are friendly toward the novice and are happy to share their secrets. There’s plenty of crab down there to go around.
Bait shops such as Newport Marina Store & Charters Inc. in South Beach are helpful in advising the type of bait to use. In waters thick with seals and sea lions like Newport Bay, most old-timers recommend chicken. Some crabbers, however, feel that fish carcasses are more productive in spite of the seals stealing them nearly as fast as the ring can be rebaited. Give a fish filleter a couple of bucks at the dock for some fish entrails.
Most crabbers are watchful of the tide and prefer starting out about two hours before high tide. But others make the case that an hour or so before low tide works best.
Crab pots and boats can be rented at Newport Marina for $60 for four hours $80 for all day. Crab rings are cheap and abundant in the fishing sections of Walmart, Fred Meyer and Englund Marine, among other retailers. Most tackle shops have several ingenious set-ups for crabbing with a fishing pole. In fact, Red Rock crabs are often caught while rockfishing with hooks.
The Newport docks are usually productive. But remember: the hardest places to get to are the best spots.