Winter Dungeness crab seasons open this Saturday despite lowest summer catch seen in a decade 1
The winter sport Dungeness crab seasons are set to begin this Saturday (Oct. 6), but summer catch assessments showed the overall crab abundance was the lowest seen in a decade.
“After looking at the (summer-time) catch data of pounds harvested this will go down as the lowest dating back to 2008,” said Don Velasquez, a WDFW Puget Sound shellfish manager.
Marine areas reopening daily to sport crabbing from Saturday (Oct. 6) through Dec. 31 are Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line (Marine Catch Area 4); Sekiu in western Strait of Juan de Fuca (5); Port Angeles in eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (6); San Juan Islands (7); Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay (8-1); Port Susan and Port Gardner (8-2); and a section of northern Puget Sound/Admiralty Inlet (9) except for waters south of a line from Olele Point to Foulweather Bluff.
The winter crab season won’t reopen in central Puget Sound (10), according to Velasquez since the summer catch quota was exceeded.
Other areas not reopening during the upcoming winter fishery are south-central Puget Sound (11); Hood Canal (12); and southern Puget Sound (13).
“Some said crabbing was fine and others were asking what’s wrong,” Velasquez said. “We had a mixed bag of reports from Area 7 (San Juan Islands) and 8-1 and 8-2 (east side of Whidbey Island) had an average year.”
Sport anglers who got out during the July opener in Area 9 (northern Puget Sound) benefitted with good catches as the tribal fisheries didn’t get out until a couple weeks later.
The daily limit in Puget Sound/Strait sport fisheries is five Dungeness crab – male crab only – in hard shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 ¼ inches. Crabbers may also catch six red rock crab of either sex per day with a minimum carapace width of 5 inches.
All Dungeness crab caught in the late-season recreational fishery must be recorded immediately on winter catch record cards, which are valid through Dec. 31.
Sport anglers must report their winter crab catch by Feb.1, 2019. For more information, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html