State Fish and Wildlife has completed summer assessments, revealing another banner season for Dungeness crab.
More good news about Dungeness crab is rising from the briny depths of Puget Sound.
State Fish and Wildlife just completed summer assessments revealing another banner season, which for the most part has carried its weight into the fall/winter fishery.
“It was a pretty good summer, with more than 2 million pounds of crab caught, and that is about the same as last year’s record-setting summer,” said Rich Childers, the state Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager.
This past summer, 2,186,210 pounds were caught by sport anglers in inner-marine waterways from the Strait of Juan de Fuca at Neah Bay into southern Puget Sound.
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By comparison, more than 2.7 million pounds were caught in the summer of 2015 (2.4 million in 2014).
The highest catch came from the east side of Whidbey Island – commonly referred to as Marine Catch Areas 8-1 and 8-2 – where 939,231 pounds were caught by recreational fishermen.
Elsewhere, the total catch was 528,590 pounds in San Juan Islands (Catch Area 7); 157,900 in northern Puget Sound (9); 196,984 in eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca (6); 6,111 in western Strait of Juan de Fuca (4 and 5); 148,653 in central Puget Sound (10); 174,075 in Hood Canal (12); 25,836 in south-central Puget Sound (11); and 8,828 in southern Puget Sound (13).
The winter fishery remains decent when anglers are able to get out between storms to set pots around many parts of Puget Sound and Hood Canal.
State Fish and Wildlife is closing central Puget Sound (10) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
“We thought we were going to keep it open, but catch rates between recreational fishermen and the tribes would have put us above the quota,” Childers said. “We remain solid in other areas staying open for the rest of this winter.”
The department also pointed out that south-central Puget Sound (11) and southern Puget Sound (13) will stay closed this winter,
Harvest numbers from the summer crab fishery in Areas 11 and 13 indicate sport crabbers reached their quota for the year, state fisheries reported, and they were taking measures to protect crab populations.
Crab fishing is open daily through Dec. 31 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, east side of Whidbey Island, northern Puget Sound and Hood Canal.
The daily limit is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches.
Anglers may also keep six red-rock crab daily of either sex, and they must measure at least 5 inches across the widest part of the shell.
Crab pots must have a biodegradable rot cord (plastic zip cords are illegal to use) to secure the lid and escape hatches. The rot cord must be untreated 100 percent cotton or other natural fiber no larger than thread size 120. This cord must be able to rot away, allowing crab to escape freely. A derelict crab pot without a proper escape cord can attract and kill crabs for years after it has been lost.
Improperly marked crab pots is a violation commonly found by enforcement. Each buoy on the crab pot must have the person’s name and address.
Crab pots are the most commonly used way to catch crabs from a boat or off a pier, and are typically set from 10 to 60 feet deep and left to “soak” for several hours or overnight before being checked.
Popular baits include salmon carcasses and heads, horse clams and chicken or turkey parts. Many outdoor stores also sell liquid attractants that can be applied to the bait to create a scent line to attract crabs from far away.
Another popular way to catch Dungeness crab is wading along the shoreline using a dip-net.
Crab use target bays with sandy bottoms and large beds of eelgrass as their habitat. Plan to hit the beach about two to three hours before low tide.
In the Seattle area, try off the Shilshole Bay and Edmonds jetties, Whidbey Island, the Kitsap Peninsula from Pilot Point south to Kingston, Indianola, Bainbridge Island, shoreline south of West Point to Magnolia Bluff, Quartermaster Harbor, Hat Island and from Richmond Beach north to Browns Bay.
Other good areas are San Juan Islands, Dungeness Bay, Skagit Bay, Saratoga Passage, Sequim Bay, Discovery Bay, Port Townsend Bay, Port Susan, Port Gardner, Padilla Bay, Samish Bay and Birch Bay.
Good pier locations include Shilshole Bay, Mukilteo, Everett, Edmonds, Des Moines, Les Davis, Bremerton, Sinclair and Redondo piers.
Lastly, anglers must have a winter catch card to fish.
A mandatory winter catch report is due to state Fish and Wildlife by Feb. 1.