November 1st is the opening day of the 2014 dungeness crab season in California. Here’s what you need to know about this opportunity.
Dungeness crabs are one of California’s most popular shellfishes. Recreational sportfishermen can begin catching these tasty crabs as of November 1, 2014.
Recreational crabbers can keep 10 dungeness crabs of either sex per day, or six per day if catching them from a party boat south of Mendocino County.
How to catch Dungeness crabs
Most recreational crabbers use crab pots or traps, loop-lines or hoop nets to catch dungeness crabs. Crab pots or traps are baited with small fish, chicken, hot dogs or other meat. The crabs will either enter the trap through a one-way door and get captured, or a manually operated trap can be pulled closed when the weight of the crab is felt.
Crab rings and loop traps are baited. The dungeness crab grabs hold of the ring with its claws. When the crabber feels the weight of the crab, the line is slowly pulled in until the crab can be seen in the water. Once the crab is seen, it is quickly netted and brought in. The law requires hoop nets to be raised to the surface at least one every two hours to release any under-sized crabs or other species that were accidentally caught.
Dungeness crabs must measure five and three-quarters inches measured across the shell in front of and excluding the lateral spines. Crabs caught south of Mendocino County are required to measure six inches across.
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Where to find them
Dungeness crabs are different from other rock crab species because of their habitat. Dungeness crabs prefer sandy or muddy bottoms and cooler waters from central California northward. They are typically in water of less than 300 feet but have been recorded to be found as deep as 750 feet.
Know the laws and licensing requirements before you go. More information can be found at the California Fish and Game website.