Crabbing opens Monday in Olympia area waters

The crab season will open Monday in waters of the deep South Sound and on July 2 in the Tacoma area.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife Wednesday announced the summer crab-fishing seasons for Puget Sound.

While most areas of the Sound will open July 2, two areas around the San Juan Islands open later this summer to protect molting crab.

As was the case last year, crabbers south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Marine Area 13) will have an extra month to catch their quota, according to Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead.

Test fishing done recently shows crabs in southern Puget Sound are already in hard-shell condition, allowing for an early start to the fishing season in that area, Childers said.

“Sport crabbers in that area have fallen short of reaching their catch quota in recent years, so we can afford to give them more time to fish during the upcoming season,” Childers said in a news release. “Over the next couple of weeks we will continue to conduct test fisheries in Puget Sound, where we could open a few other areas to sport crabbing earlier than currently scheduled.”

The daily limit for crab fishers throughout Puget Sound remains five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6.25 inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

Fishermen are reminded that they cannot set or pull shellfish gear from a vessel from one hour after official sunset to one hour before official sunrise. All shellfish gear must be removed from the water on days when crabbing is closed.

Childers also said Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after retaining crab. Separate catch record cards are issued for the summer and winter seasons.

Catch record cards are not required to fish for Dungeness crab in the Columbia River or on the Washington coast.