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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2 points - 1) Thanks to the ifisher that recommended adding weight to your crab lines to keep them submerged. I went out for the first time today out of Garibaldi with the wife and another couple and took the advice offered on ifish to add the weight. 8 oz. worked well at 7 - 8 feet down from the float. Really helped and for the first time crabbing we all had a wonderful time. I did however, have to dodge a lot of floating line out there.
2) 2nd point and the big question - The crab we got were not full. When do the crab start filling out? In other words, when is the best time to go crabbing. It certainly isn't June 28. We used a combo of shad and poultry, also as suggested on ifish. I sure appreciate reading all the information that all of you are so willing to share to make it a lot easier for us newer people to enjoy such sports. I don't have a lot to share but sure read what you have to offer. Thanks to all of you.
 

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October and November are great times to go crabbing, depending on RAIN levels. From now until about the end of August there will be a lot of soft ones. I guess this varies depending on location?
 

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And December! The commercials don't start fishing crab 'till December when the ocean opens.

There has been years when the season has been delayed because the percentage of meat (weight) wasn't optimum.

As Sailor stated it depends allot on the amount of rain in the winter months in the bays. Crab prefer salty water and migrate outside the bays when there is too much fresh water.
 

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This is the crab molting season. This is when they shed their shells and grow new larger ones. So there isn't much meat in those new shells yet. That is why they ask that if you are crabbing during these months , that if you get a soft shell, you should release it, and let him get some meat on the shells.

The best time to crab would be in the months that have "R"'s in them. (januaRy, febRuaRay, maRch, etc.) You do need to watch the run-off from the rivers, because, if it rains, the fresh water will push the crabs back out to the ocean, where the salt content is greater. They will come back in after the water levels drop again. a couple days.
We have also done very well in August, up in Astoria, out towards bouy 14.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all
- Your information is taken well, and I'll try again in September. No Crab Louie's tonight - maybe just a crab lou. A little on the skimpy side.
 

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When I first moved to the NW, I asked the same timing question. The one I tend to go by is "crabbing is only worth it in the months that end with an 'R'".

[ 06-28-2003, 09:26 PM: Message edited by: pdxkevin ]
 

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pdxkevin,


That's what I always heard, the months that end with an "R".

September, October, November, December and Juner. :grin:

You can get some hard shelled crab any month but you really have to sort through them this time of year. Just make sure there adipose pincher is clipped. :grin:

Dan

[ 06-28-2003, 11:47 PM: Message edited by: DepoeBayDan ]
 

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If you look at the bottom of crab(sexing), you'll see some filaments that looks like hair or a beard. Thats algae, usually brown, and is on the underside and edge along the legs & claws.
Any crab which has a relative clean shell, has molted.
 

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Interesting lor! I have never heard that in all the years I have sport crabbed and the two I commercial crabbed.

I'll have to observe and look into that one.

Of course all of us experienced crabbers have a first clue by the looks and feel (weight) of the crab. Maybe that was part of the un-observant look of the crab. Also it seems they are usually a darker colorization and sometimes have barancles on them.

Cool bit of info!

Dan

[ 06-29-2003, 02:17 AM: Message edited by: DepoeBayDan ]
 

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Special Thanks to Nick Furman and the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commissionfor the following:

Biology of the Dungeness Crab

The basic biology of the Dungeness crab is well known. Crabs grow by shedding their old shell, a process called molting. During their first two years, Dungeness crabs molt several times. At a size of about 4", or by the third year of life, molting becomes less frequent, occuring only once each year. During an annual molt, a crab will grow about 1".

Just after molting, Dungeness crabs are very watery and soft and their shell is easily punctured. They dig into the sand and stay there for several days while their shell starts to harden.

Approximately two to three months are required for an adult crab to completely harden and fill with meat. Most males molt during the summer and fall months, but the time can vary greatly by year and area.


Male Dungeness crabs are active breeders at an age of three to four years and at a size of approximately 5 1/2". They will mate with several females. Mating takes place between a hard male and a soft, smaller female immediately after the female molts.

A female produces up to 2.5 million eggs. Most crabs caught in the fishery are four years of age and have been sexually mature for one to two years.

The 6 1/4 inch size limit (that's California- an article I found on the web- Dan) and protection of females insures that the reproductive capacity of the population is protected.


History:
Dungeness crab, reportedly named after a small fishing village on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in Washington state, have been harvested commercially along the Pacific Coast since the late 1800's. They range from central California to the Gulf of Alaska, and have long been part of the Northwest's seafood heritage.

Harvest Method:
Dungeness crabs are caught in circular steel traps commonly called "pots." Weighing anywhere from 60 to 125 lbs. and measuring 36" to 48" across, each pot has a length of line with a buoy attached to mark its position for retrieval.(Commercial article obviously-Dan)

The posts are baited with herring, squid and razor clams to attract the bottom-dwelling crabs during the one-to-three day "soak" period.

Dungeness crabs are kept alive in tanks until they are delivered to a shoreside processor. Only male crabs measuring at least 6 1/4" across the shell may be harvested. Small males and all females are returned live to the sea. The average boat fishes 250 to 300 pots, in depths ranging from 5 to 30 fathoms (30 to 180 ft.) of water.
S
The crab season on the Oregon coast begins on December 1, and continues through August 15. The peak harvest occurs during the first eight weeks of the season, with up to 75% of the anual production landed during this period.

Effort decreases in the spring as fishermen gear up for other coastal fisheries, but fresh crab continues to be available throughout the summer months, thanks to a small number of boats that fish right up to the closure in August.


Annual Landings:
Oregon fishermen land, on an average, 10 million lbs. of Dungeness crab annually. Total production for the region, which includes Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California, weighs in at an annual average of 38.5 million lbs. Dungeness crab landings are cyclical. Oregon's harvest has fluctuated from a high of 18.3 million lbs. to a low of 3.2 million lbs. in recent years.


Catch Value:
The ex-vessel value of Oregon's Dungeness crab fishery fluctuates, with revenue ranging from 5.7 to 26.0 million dollars during a recent 10-year period. Ex-vessel prices ranged from $1.00 per lb. to $3.00 per lb. during this same period.
Vessels:


There are in excess of 350 vessels presently engaged in the crab fishery off the Oregon coast. They range from the small wooden troller with its two-man crew, to the large steel combination vessel with a four-man crew, capable of fishing around the clock in all kinds of weather.


Processors:
Most of Oregon's seafood companies purchase and process Dungeness crab during the course of the season. Some of the larger companies produce all market forms, are capable of volume orders and maintain frozen inventories for year-round sales. Other smaller companies specialize in specific market forms and targeted market niches. Many ship direct, for out-of-state orders.
 

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"Nature Guide Journal"

23 August 2001

Water cascaded from the crab ring as we pulled it out of the water and dropped it onto the dock. The people from my Elderhostel group gathered around as the scuttling crabs were quickly examined to determine if we had landed any keepers.

Crabbing is a popular–and rewarding–sport in Oregon's estuaries. The most popular quarry, Dungeness crab (Cancer magister), is as fascinating as it is appetizing.

Measuring the largest crab in our ring told us it was large enough to keep: 5 ¾" across the back (just in front of the longest spines) for sport-caught. Since only males can be kept, we flipped the crab over to ascertain its sex. Like most crab, Dungeness have a jointed flap on the underside: this flap on females is broad and rounded; on males it's narrow.

Crabs are arthropods (joint-legged invertebrates) that have jointed, exterior shells rather than interior skeletons for structure and support. Crabs shed their shells periodically to grow larger. The old shell splits along a seam around the main part of the body (the "carapace") and the animal pulls its body out of the now-too-tight shell.

By the time the crab molts, a new shell has developed under the old one. The larger shell is quite soft when new, and the crab pumps up with water to stretch it. A mature animal can gain an inch or more across the carapace with the molt.

It will take several weeks or a month for the new shell to harden well. In the meantime, the crab are at greater risk to being eaten or damaged. Soft-shell crab should be released: From the crabbers' point of view, soft-shell Dungeness are less valuable since the meat hasn't yet grown to fill the shell, making it sparse and watery.

Molting is especially significant for mature Dungeness crabs–it is only when the female molts that she can be fertilized by a male. Male Dungeness crab seek females that are about ready to molt and trap them in their legs until the old shell is shed. The male assists the female in casting off the old shell, then inserts a packet of sperm under her flap. Mature females usually molt in the spring and store the live sperm until the eggs are developed in winter.

Up to two million fertilized eggs are carried under the female's wide jointed flap until hatching. Small enough to float in the water with other plankton, the microscopic young crab larvae look more like curled, horned shrimp than like adult Dungeness. The size of a small pea, the last larval stage of the Dungeness looks like a crab, but still moves in the water column.

By summer, the young crab metamorphose into thumbnail-sized juveniles that settle onto the bottom. Dungeness crab will mature in two or three years, and reach harvestable size in about four. By the time they're large enough for a legal catch, Dungeness crab will have molted about 15 times since settling to the bottom.

Mature crab generally molt once a year, with females molting in late spring and males molting in late summer.

Because molted shells have all the external parts intact–including legs, mouthparts, antenna, eyes, and gill supports, they look like whole, dead animals. People often mistake large numbers of molted shells on the beach as evidence of widespread disease or disaster. (Visit the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife's informative page on this topic.)

Dungeness crab are predators, not scavengers. Adults feed on clams, worms, shrimp, smaller crab, and other fresh meat–which is why fresh bait is more effective than rotten bait. The prey is caught or snipped off and pulled apart with the claws, then further shredded by the assemblage of mouthparts before being eaten.

In addition to people, octopus and cabezon are major predators of Dungeness crab.
 

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Good morning noclass.

As far as soft shell crab goes, I have found a percentage on every trip. Last weekend my son and I crabbed Tillamook bay and of 19 crab, two were returned as soft. When you remove a legal size crab from the ring or pot, just squeeze a hind leg and if firm, place into your water filled cooler.

Regarding the "R", an old timer once tole me that's because May thru August are our warmest months of the year, the without adequate refrigeration they didn't harvest shellfish. I don't know, we have had some pretty hot SeptembeR's and early OctobeR's.

Your question regarding soft shells, I don't know if their is a firm date where they don't exist. When it's time to molt the new shell is just soft until the meat fills in and shell ages.

Good luck and keep crabbing
 

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I have caught crabs any time of the year. I would admit more soft crabs are found during the summer months, but good crabbing is where you find it :smile: Friday we did get many soft crabs but many hard ones as well, and interestingly enough many of the hard ones were females.
 

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Yeh, you can only crab in months with r's in them. :wink: Actually the advice above was correct. Crab year round and in the summer if they are soft and spongy throw them back. You will usually get a mix.

The thing with the R's has to do with something with red tides?? in warmer cliaments. I think several years ago Pilar gave a pretty good explanation on the topic of months with R's in it.

Here it is... http://www.ifish.net/cgi-local/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=26;t=003497#000004

[ 06-29-2003, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: Grits ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks to all for your help. I've got knowledge now. One more question - Is Netarts better than Tillamook Bay? I'm sure it must be less crowded. Or is Tillamook Bay the place to be?
 

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noclass,

Tillamook is better. However, put keeper crab in a dry container to keep them alive. :smile: If you put them in a bucket of water they will drown from lack of oxygen suspended in the water. :sick: If the day is hot then put them in an ice chest with a bag of ice. :cool: Someone told me, when crabs die the bacteria begin to break down the flesh. The longer they're dead the worse it is. Thus cook'em alive, or some like to kill, clean, and then cook. :cheers:

Cheerio'
Skipper
Native Oregonian - raised on Netarts Bay.
 

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YOu can Crab anytime, but it is very important to fish ONLY on days that end in "Y" :grin:
 

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Thanks DepoeBayDan for the wonderful info.

Miss B Haven You Got That Right!!! :grin: :grin:
 
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