crabbing for dungeness

If you’re heading out on the water for a day of crabbing, nothing will suck the life out of your fun day more then forgetting an important part of the crab catching process. Luckily for you we’ve compiled a list of thingies that are a must have in the boat so the next time you don’t forget something as stupid as bait, like we did. 

The following are in not particular order of importance because it’s recommended that you have all of these on hand.


Salt Water Fishing License

You need a license to fish for crab. A fishing license is relatively inexpensive and (if you follow our crab catching guide) will pay you back two fold. Make sure you know what the size limits are and how many crabs you are allowed per day. Also, if you’re fishing in Washington bring your crab logging book.


Crab Measuring Device

I have at times had to resort to using a measuring tape but if your crab isn’t way over the legal size limit this measuring tool isn’t going to help. When I’m prepared, I use the plastic crab caliper found at any store for under five bucks. It has the notches cut in for each size species and gives you the legal size limits for different areas you might find yourself in. I have also made my own by cutting the notches out of a wood block. Some crabbers have carved out the notches right on the wooden railing at the fishing piers. Rulers and measuring tape will work, however, it takes patience and precision to get an exact measurement.


Crab Traps

Again, check your local fishing regulations to see how many traps you are allowed to use (per person or per boat) with a recreational fishing license. If you are fishing for Dungeness in B.C. waters bring two traps, fishing for blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay-bring thirty.

Crabbing for Dungeness -use the box trap with the one-way doors. They keep the crabs in the trap until you pull it up.



Use leaded rope or rope with a weight attached. You don’t want any boaters getting tangled in your crab trap. It’s common courtesy on the water.


Crab Tongs

I don’t use them but if you are a beginner and have any fear at all that you might get pinched then these are an absolute necessity.
It’s not until I watch someone get a nasty pinch RIGHT AFTER I tell them how to properly pick up and handle a crab that I realize just how experienced I am in this department. If you don’t feel confident or you haven’t learned the proper techniques then I would highly recommend tongs. Don’t feel bad about using tongs, some of the most seasoned crab fishermen use them.



There’s two reasons why you want to wear glove when crabbing, 
  1. Because rope burn is a bitch 
  2. Because getting pinched by a crab’s claw is la bitch.
Here’s the most common complaint, other than not having gloves at all. Cold, wet hands unless it’s summer then it’s an invalid complaint. You want to invest in a good thick pair of rubber glove.
You will still feel a pinch by a crab claw but not nearly as badly as not wearing any gloves at all.


A Cooler with a Couple of Frozen Water Bottles

You will need something for storing your fresh caught live crabs in. I like to use a cooler, but only for short periods of time -say four hours. I put seawater in the cooler and a couple of frozen water bottles. I change out the sea water every couple of hours.


Bushel Basket if you’re catching Blue Crabs

Bushel baskets are ideal because they hold a good size catch and the wood stays wet. If it’s a hot day dunk the whole bushel with crabs in the water then place a wet towel over them.


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Crabbing Checklist
: Main
  • Crab
Method to the Rad-ness
  1. Fishing license
  2. Crab caliper
  3. Bait
  4. Gloves
  5. Traps
  6. Rope
  7. Tongs
  8. Cooler