Dungeness crabs are some of the most delicious gifts from the sea, and catching your own is a unique experience that will help you enjoy your meal even more. Although these animals are plentiful, it takes some skill and expertise to trap them properly. You could miss out on this delicious catch if you don’t have the right equipment.
Fortunately, this guide will help you learn about the best crab traps for catching Dungeness crabs and some essential information about when to trap and catch these tasty crustaceans.
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Overall 7 Best Crab Traps for Catching Dungeness Crabs
There are several different Dungeness crab traps for all kinds of needs and budgets. These seven best ones will net you a delicious dinner in no time.
Danielson 24″ Fold-Up Pacific Crab Trap Deluxe
This crab trap is a collapsable, folding model that professional fishers use in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a pro to get it. It’s highly durable and corrosion-adverse, so that you can keep it in the water for a long time. Plus, there are several different ways for crabs to get inside.
It’s also relatively large, at 24 inches long and wide, so you’ll have the opportunity to catch several crabs throughout the course of a day. So if you plan on spending a lot of time on your fishing hobby, you can’t go wrong with the Danielson 24″ Fold-Up Pacific Crab Trap Deluxe.
Promar Pacific Crabbing Kit
The Promar Pacific Crabbing Kit is super sturdy and easy to use, with non-corrodible material and a fairly substantial weight. Although it’s pretty heavy, it comes with small floaters so you can lift it easily from the sea.
This kit is excellent for Dungeness crab fishing in slightly wavier waters, as it will stay put on the bottom and lure all those tasty crabs straight into the trap.
Drasry Crab Trap Bait Lobster Crawfish Shrimp Portable Folded Cast Net
If you’re looking for a Dungeness crab trap that will get the job done and fit nicely into your garage when you’re finished, the Drasry Crab Trap is an ideal choice. While sizable at its entire length, the trap easily folds and fits right onto a shelf for easy storage.
This circular trap uses tough mesh and wire to keep crabs inside, and it’s effortless to open when you want to grab your catch. Although advanced fishers will undoubtedly find it helpful, the trap is excellent for beginners since there’s a minimal learning curve, and you can start fishing immediately.
2-Pack of KUFA Vinyl Coated Crab Trap & Accessory Kit
The KUFA Vinyl Coated Crab Trap & Accessory Kit is designed to be totally user-friendly, with clearly marked tough sinking ropes that have strong lead centers. These ropes allow you to both lower and lift the traps with absolute ease.
There’s also an easy-to-use bait bag that locks after use and a floating device that allows you to bring up the trap when you’re finished. The cage is also humane. If you lose it in the water, the ropes on the side will erode, allowing the crabs to get back into the sea.
Maryland Blue Crab Pot Trap
Although this item has “blue crab pot trap” in the name, the Maryland Blue Crab Pot Trap is also perfect for Dungeness crab fishing. In addition, it’s a good option for people who want to fish for several different types of animals, as you can also use it for lobster and other crab varieties.
It’s eco-friendly, super simple to use, and very sturdy. The trap also has built-in protections so other animals, like turtles, can’t get stuck inside. Although it’s a bit of an investment, this trap will last a long time, and avid fishers will get a lot of use out of it.
Drasry 2PCS Three Entrances Large Crab Traps Portable Collapsible Trap
This portable, collapsible trap is a multi-use item that’s great for snagging Dungeness crab, lobster, shrimp, and crawfish. You can also use it to get other types of crabs too. It’s relatively large and has several different routes for marine animals to get inside. Although it’s undoubtedly a professional-level tool, beginners will find it accessible.
One of the key things we love about this trap is the fact that it’s exceptionally sturdy and will not rock around in questionable conditions. As a result, you can leave it for several hours, or even a full day, and find it in the same spot you dropped it. It’s also easy to open and has built-in protections to avoid accidents or bites.
AUTES Foldable Crab Traps Hand Cast Fishing Nets
The AUTES Foldable Crab Traps Hand Cast Fishing Nets are an excellent alternative to some of our list’s bulkier, heavier traps. These nylon nets are lightweight for easy storage but still do the job when it comes to catching crabs.
The nets are large enough to grab elusive Dungeness crabs and keep them secure for several hours or even a day. They’re also great for snagging other types of crustaceans or even fish from below the waves.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re new to Dungeness crab fishing, you may have a lot of questions about how to get started. These frequently asked questions and answers will help you be successful right from the start and ease the fishing learning curve.
What Is the Best Bait for Dungeness Crab?
Dungeness crabs like many different types of food, but some of their favorites are fish. Look for fish with high oil content, like mackerel, tuna, or herring, for the best results. You can also use salmon, although it’s more expensive. Heads, tails, and organs work best, as they are highly fragrant and very attractive to Dungeness crab.
One great way to stock up on Dungeness crab bait is to save and freeze your fish scraps. You can also get scraps at local fishing or sporting stores. Clams are another exceptional option, although the price can be prohibitive. If you can’t get clams, consider using cheaper mollusks or finding them yourself by the shore rather than purchasing them at a store.
What Is the Best Time To Catch Dungeness Crabs?
Dungeness crabs tend to be more plentiful when the tide comes in because they don’t have to swim against the current to get to the shore bed. High tides are often also saltier, and since crabs like saline-rich water, it’s a comfortable and easy environment to be in.
High tide changes depending on where you are in the world, so you’ll want to check your location to see the optimal time to fish. You can also ask more experienced local fishers when they go crabbing and follow suit. So while you might have more competition for Dungeness crab and other species, you’ll be asea when the crabs are most likely to be there.
What Attracts Dungeness Crab?
Dungeness crabs prefer salty water that’s pretty cold (so, not Florida). They also like to burrow and live on sandy-bottomed shores, so you’ll find them in bays and coves near the open ocean. They don’t tend to be out in the open sea itself.
Dungeness crabs can live virtually anywhere where the water is chilly. Still, they predominately live up in the north in places like Alaska, the western coast of Canada, or the continental Pacific Northwest of the United States.
How Long Do You Leave a Crab Trap in the Water?
There are several schools of thought regarding how long you should leave a crab trap in the water, but generally speaking, you should leave it for at least several hours to a day for maximum results. If you want to lure crabs into the trap properly, it needs to be sitting untouched for a while so that the crabs feel comfortable going in there.
This timeframe is why it’s imperative to get a sturdy crab trap that stays at the bottom of the ocean in one place. If the trap is moving around, the crabs won’t trust it. You can also use a net that floats with the waves and doesn’t raise any suspicions for the local marine life.
Since the timing varies, it’s good to talk to local fishers to see how long they leave their traps in the water. You can also experiment with different timetables and locations to find the right sweet spot for getting those tasty Dungeness crabs.
What is the best bait for Dungeness crab traps?
The best bait for Dungeness crab traps is local fish, such as salmon, tuna, or lingcod. Even lean fish like rockfish can also be effective. However, it is important to note that using fish as bait may also attract seals and sea lions, unlike clams or chicken.
What are Dungeness crabs favorite food?
Dungeness crabs favorite food is determined by their foraging behavior, which aligns with their habitat. These crabs scavenge along the sea floor, searching for organisms that reside partially or entirely buried in the sand. Being carnivores, their diet comprises a variety of prey such as shrimp, mussels, small crabs, clams, and worms.
Where is the best spot for a crab trap?
The best spot for a crab trap is near cuts and creek mouths, where crabs tend to gather. It is recommended to place your traps outside of these areas. Additionally, underwater humps and bars can also be highly productive locations for crab trapping.
Are Dungeness crabs bottom feeders?
Dungeness crabs are considered bottom feeders due to their omnivorous diet, which includes foraging for clams, crustaceans, shrimp, worms, and similar organisms. However, it is worth noting that these crabs have a diverse appetite and will consume almost anything they come across and are able to catch.
What attracts crabs to traps?
Crabs are attracted to traps by bait, with fish and chicken being the most commonly used options. Fish, particularly oily ones, tend to attract more crabs, while chicken has the advantage of lasting longer. Any species or cut of chicken can be used, but necks are preferred due to their affordability and ease of securing.
What do commercial crabbers use for bait?
Commercial crabbers use menhaden as bait for crabbing. Menhaden, also known as alewife, shad, bunker, shiner, or pogey, is the preferred bait for crabbers who use crabpots. It is a plentiful and relatively inexpensive bait that is highly effective in attracting crabs. While frozen menhaden is said to catch more crabs than fresh, it does not have as long of a shelf life.
What’s the best time to go crabbing?
The best time to go crabbing is during the period of 1-2 hours before high tide until 1-2 hours after high tide. During this time, the water will have sufficient movement, providing you with the greatest opportunity to catch crabs. However, it is important to be cautious of water currents as they can potentially displace your traps or cause them to become trapped in the mud.
Do crab pots sit on the bottom?
Crab pots do sit on the bottom of the ocean floor, making them more accessible to crustaceans. These traps are baited with various types of fish and squid to attract crabs, and they can be lowered up to 400 feet beneath the surface to settle on the ocean floor.
What attracts Dungeness crab?
Dungeness crab is attracted to fresh fish, chicken, or clams/mussels, which are considered the best bait options. The effectiveness of each bait option varies, but the key is to use bait that is fresh and emits a strong scent.
Where are most Dungeness crab caught?
Most Dungeness crab are caught in a catch area that spans from the Central Coast of California, starting just south of San Francisco, all the way up the coast, covering almost all of the coastal waters of Oregon and Washington state, as well as throughout the Puget Sound, the Coastal waters of Canada, and even in Southeast Alaska.
What is the best bait for crabbing?
The best bait for crabbing is typically raw liver, bacon, sardines, squid, and fish heads. These options are highly effective due to crabs’ strong sense of smell and their greedy nature. It is recommended to use bait that emits a strong odor. You can easily find these bait options at local butchers and fishmongers in your area. Additionally, if the fish heads are a couple of days old, they become even more enticing to crabs.
What is the best line for a crab trap?
The best line for a crab trap is the Leaded Crab Rope – 5/16″. This rope is specifically designed for securing your crab pot to the floating buoy above the water’s surface. Its weighted lead rope ensures that the line sinks vertically below the float, making it easier and safer to rig your crab pots.
How do you keep Dungeness crab alive for a day?
To keep Dungeness crab alive for a day, you can store them in a cool and aerated environment, like a cooler, and ensure they stay moist by using a wet towel and a pool of salt water. The presence of salt water enables the crabs to breathe, and this method should effectively maintain their vitality for approximately 8 hours.
Can you leave crab pots overnight in Washington?
You can leave crab pots overnight in Washington, except in Marine Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line and Marine Areas 5, 6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13, where shellfish gear may not be set or pulled from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise.
Where is the best place to catch Dungeness Crab in Washington state?
The best place to catch Dungeness Crab in Washington state is Birch Bay. It is considered one of the top locations in the entire state, and possibly even in the Northwest. During crab season, you will witness numerous boats dropping their pots in the water, making it a prime spot for crabbing.