Tag Archives: dungeness crab

Summer 2018 Puget Sound Crab Seasons Announced; No Crabbing Weds., July 4

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced Puget Sound summer crab-fishing seasons, which get underway June 16 with an opening in two marine areas.

MARINE AREA 8-2, WHERE LOGAN, CHAD, KYLE AND PAYSON HAULED THESE DUNGIES LAST YEAR, IS AMONG THE MARINE AREAS WHERE CRABBING SEASON WILL OPEN JUNE 30. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay – East of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line) and 5 (Sekiu) open for sport crabbing Saturday, June 16.  Many other areas of the Sound will open for recreational crab fishing on June 30, although two areas around the San Juan Islands open later in the summer to protect molting crab.

Summer seasons for the upcoming fishery are posted on WDFW’s crab-fishing website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/. The website includes details on fishing regulations, as well as an educational video on crabbing.

WDFW continues to monitor crab abundance throughout Puget Sound and manages crab fisheries to maintain healthy populations, said Bob Sizemore, shellfish policy lead for WDFW.

“Crabbing should be good again this year in several areas of Puget Sound,” he said.

Recreational crabbing will be open Thursdays through Mondays each week. Crabbing is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, which means crabbers should be aware that no sport crab fisheries will be open Wednesday, July 4. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on closed days.

Crab seasons are scheduled as follows:

  • Marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), and 5 (Sekiu): Open June 16 through Sept. 3.
  • Marine areas 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), 8-1 (Deception Pass), 8-2 (Port Susan/Everett), 9 (Port Gamble and Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), and 12 (Hood Canal):  Open June 30 through Sept. 3.
  • Marine Area 7 South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham): Open July 14 through Sept. 30.
  • Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia): Open Aug. 16 through Sept. 30.

The following areas are closed this season:

  • Marine areas 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island) and 13 (south Puget Sound): These areas are closed to promote recovery of Dungeness crab populations in those areas. WDFW provided more information about the closure in a previous news release available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/may1018a/.

The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Crab fishers may not set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.

Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast, where crabbing is open year-round.

High Number Of Lost Crab Pots Off Anacortes Highlights Problem

When the boys and I go up to Anacortes to crab with writer Wayne Heinz and Lucie Fritz, Wayne will tell us that on the mid-July opener it’s as easy as putt-putting a couple hundred yards out of Cap Sante Marina and sending down baited pots.

In late summer, when we go, we have to run further out to find plentiful Dungeness and red rocks, but Wayne’s observation of how popular and productive these close-in waters are was really in evidence a couple weeks ago on Facebook.

(NORTHWEST STRAITS INITIATIVE)

The Northwest Straits Initiative Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project posted a map that showed the locations of 614 lost crab pots from just outside the marina east into Padilla Bay and north towards the western tip of Samish Island.

Discovered by sidescanning sonar, nearly all of the pots were in depths of less than 60 feet.

Crews have since begun to haul these up — some unfortunately still fishing with dead crabs as bait — and that was the subject of a story last night on KOMO News.

“It’s probably about the highest density we’ve seen. It’s a quite a big number,” Jason Morgan of the Northwest Straits Foundation told reporter Michelle Esteban.

HIGH NUMBERS OF LOST CRAB POTS WERE FOUND IN THE WATERS OUTSIDE CAP SANTE MARINA. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Morgan told her it’s a “perfect storm” of heavily trafficked waters — in addition to the marina, tankers deliver oil to the refinery and this is the northern end of the Swinomish Channel cutoff — strong tide swings through the islands and proximity to deeper waters.

No doubt that some pots are actually pilfered, but Esteban reports that crab cages are lost “mostly due to user-error — namely not weighting the pots, using the wrong line and unfamiliarity with tide and depth.”

When we go, before dropping pots, Wayne and Lucie keep a close eye on their Lowrance to note the depth and choose the right length of rope. They pick one that has plenty of scope to account for tide and current and thus will keep the pot on bottom while floating their oversized buoy. And then they put a waypoint on the map to return to.

WAYNE HEINZ AND RIVER WALGAMOTT SEND A CRAB POT INTO THE DEPTHS IN THE SAN JUANS. EXPERTS ADVISE USING LEADED ROPE, EXTRA LINE TO ACCOUNT FOR TIDES AND CURRENTS AND WEIGHTED POTS SO THAT IT’S LESS LIKELY POTS WILL BE LOST. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Yet as the old saying goes, stuff happens. WDFW reports that every year, crabbers lose 12,000 pots.

This is not to overlook the problem of derelict commercial gillnets. The Northwest Straits Initiative reports that at Point Roberts alone, “abandoned nets were destroying $437,000 worth of crab every season.”

But between all the lost pots just outside Anacortes and this summer’s closure at the other end of Puget Sound due to low numbers of Dungeness, it shows we need to be more careful with managing the fishery and how we’re fishing for them if we want to pass this tradition along to future generations.

A FULL POT IS A HAPPY POT, BUT A LOST POT CAN GO ON KILLING AS DEAD CRABS ATTRACT MORE CRABS THAT DIE AND ATTRACT MORE CRABS THAT … (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

To that end, the lost pot recoverers have kindly posted a series of videos with great tips on how to not only lose less gear but catch more crabs.

And if you do lose gear — again, stuff happens — or come across somebody else’s, there are no-fault reporting hotlines to call or enter locational information to make it easier to haul out of the depths so it doesn’t go on killing endlessly.

KIRAN WALGAMOTT SHOWS OFF A DRAWING OF A RED ROCK CRAB, WHICH HE LOVES TO TRY AND CATCH AS WELL AS EAT. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Puget Sound Crab Season Begins June 16, With More Waters Opening June 24, July 1

Good news — Puget Sound crab season’s almost here!

Crabbers can begin dropping their pots in as little as a week and a half in three marine areas, with more openings in late June and the waters closest to major population centers fair game starting July 1. The two San Juans subareas are slated for midsummer openers.

RIVER WALGAMOTT HEAVES A CRAB BUOY OVERBOARD IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS LAST SEASON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW posted the dates yesterday and a press release is due out soon.

According to manager Don Velasquez, this year’s recreational harvest might be a bit down from last year’s 2.062-million-pound catch, and the cold spring could have some crabs still in soft-shell condition early in the season, but there will be plenty of Dungies and red rockies for summer feasts.

“If you want Dungeness crab, stay north of Seattle,” tips Velasquez.

ONE OF THE EDITOR’S SONS REACHES INTO AN INSANELY OVERLOADED-WITH-KEEPERS POT HAULED UP IN THE SAN JUANS LAST YEAR. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Though smaller, red rocks dominate in the South Sound.

“There are plenty there,” Velasquez adds.

That’s especially true in Area 13, where this year’s opener has been moved back from June 1 to July 1.

The other notable change is Hood Canal’s season begins a week later, June 24, compared to mid-June last year.

Other than that, 2017’s summer season will be similar to 2016, says Velasquez.

Crabbing is open Thursdays through Mondays, and the daily limit is five male Dungeness at least 6.25 inches across the carapace and they must be in hard-shell form.

For red rocks, either sex can be kept, and they must be 5 inches across the back.

For most waters, season will run through Sept. 4.

THE WALGAMOTTLINGS MEASURE A SAN JUAN ISLANDS DUNGENESS. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

According to WDFW’s scheduled 2017 seasons, here are opener dates:

JUNE 16
Area 4, western Strait of Juan de Fuca east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line
Area 5, Sekiu
Area 11, Tacoma

JUNE 24
Area 9 — Port Gamble/Port Ludlow subarea
Area 12, Hood Canal

JULY 1
Area 6, Port Angeles, Sequim, Disco Bay
Area 8-1: Deception Pass, Skagit Bay, waters between Whidbey and Camano Islands
Area 8-2: Everett, Port Gardner
Area 9: Admiralty Inlet, Port Townsend, Edmonds
Area 10: Seattle, Bremerton, Bainbridge Island
Area 13: South Sound, Olympia

JULY 15
Area 7-South: San Juan Islands south of Patos and Lummi Islands

AUGUST 17
Area 7-North: Boundary Bay and waters north of Patos and Lummi Islands