Crab anglers should have their pots ready, ropes and floats checked, baits prepared and fishing licenses purchased. The Puget Sound summer crab fishing season opens Monday.
That means fishermen will be setting their pots in hopes of bringing home a limit of Dungeness or red rock crab.
In the South Sound, marine areas 10-13, crabbing will open at 7 a.m. Monday, followed by a two-day closure. Crabbing then will reopen Thursdays-Mondays each week through Labor Day on Sept. 2.
Anglers heading out this season should expect an average season in most places, said Don Velasquez, a fish biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. The exception could be Hood Canal, Marine Area 12, where the numbers could be above average.
“Based on the test fishing that has taken place so far and the tribal commercial fishing that has taken place, it should be similar to last year,” Velasquez said.
That holds true for the South Sound waters, Marine Area 11 (Tacoma) and Marine Area 13 (Olympia).
“I wouldn’t expect anything above an average year based on what I’ve seen so far from test fisheries,” Velasquez said.
While there has been no extraordinary rush to buy gear, expectations have been building among anglers visiting local tackle dealers.
“Everyone hopes it will be as good as last year. We had an awesome season last year,” said Walt Harvey at Verle’s Sports Center in Shelton. “It was good in terms of sizes and numbers.
“So even if it’s half as good as last year, it will be a good year.”
Catching crab is one of the most popular fisheries in the Sound. In 2010-11, sport fishermen caught more than 1.85 million pounds of Dungeness crab, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The state expects 235,000 people to participate in the Puget Sound summer crab season.
With so many participants, education remains a focus for the department and its recreational fishing group partners, Velasquez said.
The biggest rule compliance issues are not properly immediately recording the catch on a catch record card, not reporting the catch after the season, keeping undersized crab, not having a biodegradable escape cord on the crab pot and not properly marking buoys with the angler’s first and last name, and address.
Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 email@example.com
Source: State Department of Fish and Wildlife