How to Properly Measure a Crab
Once you have caught crabs in your trap some sorting is required to seperate the keepers (legal size) from the throw backs and females. Ideally you want to empty your trap and handle all the crabs without getting in harms way of the crab claw. We will show you how to properly measure your crab and keep all your fingers intact.
Firstly you will need to have your measuring device handy. The yellow crab caliper is ideal for measuring and inexpensive (a buck and change) but you could also use a measuring tape or ruler. I like the caliper because it gives you the notches for the legal size crabs in the US and Canada and for the different types of crabs.
Next you will need to measure each individual crab that you plan on keeping. To do this pull your crab out of the crab trap or dip net. Always approach your crab and grab them from behind. Pick them up with one hand, putting your thumb on their lower belly and the rest of your fingers on the top shell. Be aware of where you thumb is relative to where their pinchers are at all times.
*TIP- If you find you have a particularly aggressive crab you can calm them by “putting them to sleep”. With your thumb on their belly, massage their belly. This relaxes the crab and makes them much easier to handle.
Now pick up your measuring device and place it on the widest part of the carapace (the back shell). Measure your crab from tip to tip. If your crab is too small, gentle toss the crab back into the water.
Legal crab size:
In British Columbia- Dungeness crabs are 6.5 inches 165 mm Red Rock Crabs 115 mm
In Washington- Dungeness crabs are 6.25 inches
In Oregon- Dungeness crabs are 5.75 inches Red Rock crabs have no size limit
In California- Dungeness crabs are 5.75 inches and Red Rock crabs are 4 inches
In Florida- Blue crabs have no size limit
In Virginia -Jimmies are 5 inches and Peelers are 3.25 inches
In Texas -Blue crabs are 5 inches
In South Carolina -Blue crabs are 5 inches
In North Carolina- Blue crabs are 5 inches
*Always check your local fisheries for closures and seasons.