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Top 12 U.S states to go Crab Fishing! – License for your state??

What better place to relax after a long days crabbing, Savannahs, Tybee island. Source: visitsavannah.com
Written by Town & Tourist

Top 12 U.S states to go Crab Fishing – Licenses, Locations, Crabs with the most meat!

Crab Fishing or Crabbing, is a fun packed, fulfilling and even belly filling activity! There are wide variety of tasty crabs across the United States from Dungeness Crab, Stone Crab, Snow Crab, King Crab, and of course tasty Blue crabs!  Which Crab has the most meat this depends upon the crabs age, gender, breed and a few other factors. According to a Survey of recent U.S fisheries adult Dungeness crabs are one of the most meaty!  A popular catch in San Francisco, California. However, there are so many more “Crabtivating” locations for Crabbing! In this article, Town and Tourist will explore the best crabbing spots, which crabs to catch there and most importantly what licenses and legal requirements you must adhere to!

So don’t be a “shell” of a person and check out these great crabbing states!

1. Alsaka

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the red king crab supplies the state with some of the highest profits in the entire shellfish industry!

Where are the Best Crabbing Spots?

Popular places to go crab fishing in Alaska include Bristol Bay, Dutch Harbor and Norton Sound, and throughout the Bering Sea during October and January.

Crab Fishing/Crabbing in Kodiak Island

Kodiak Island Resort is also a great spot! (Photo by: KodiakResort.com)

Which Crab types can you catch?

Alaska provides a vast range of crab fishing opportunities, with Tanner, snow and Dungeness crabs popular in Alaskan waters.

Snow Crab

Snow crabs are found in the ocean’s shelf and upper slope, on the muddy, sandy ground. They come in a variety of colors from brown hues to a light red on top. When you flip one over you will see the classic yellow to white hue with eye catching bright white feet on the sides. In the North Pacific, they are found from Alaska to northern Siberia.

Fun Fact: Female snow crabs hold around 150,000 eggs in their abdomen after mating! 

Snow Crab in Alaska

(Snow Crab caught in Alsaka, Photo by: Crab-o-licious.com

King Crab

Four species of king crab can be found in Alaskan waters: Blue, Red, golden and scarlet. They are called these names due to the various colored hues which can be seen on their shells.  King crabs, are called kings for a reason they range in weight from 6-14 lbs ( With some even tipping the scales at 24 lbs!). With a large king crab costing up to $500!  Areas around Juno in Alaska are popular to catch these.  They can be usually found at the bottom of the ocean or muddy, sandy floors. Expect to see them dwelling at a depth of between 90 – 300 feet.

King Crab in Alaska


An NMFS Alaskan fisheries observer holding a red king crab

When is the Crabbing Season?

Alaskan king crab fishing occurs during the fall and winter months. The peak season of crab fishing usually is between October and January, which lasts for several weeks.

Do I need a License?

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

No permit is required.

Daily Crab Limits:

The daily bag and possession limit is 20 male crab, except;
In waters of Thorne Bay west of the longitude of the southwestern most tip of Thorne Head, the daily bag and possession limit is 5 male crab.

Legal Crab Sizes:

The minimum legal size for male Dungeness crab is six and one-half inches in shoulder width; male Dungeness crab less than the minimum legal size and all female Dungeness crab that have been taken must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. The shoulder width measurement of Dungeness crab is the straight-line distance across the carapace immediately anterior to the tenth anterolateral spine, not including the spines;

Number of Crab Pots allowed:

Only 5 pots are allowed per person with a maximum of 10 pots allowed per vessel. All pots to take shellfish must be plainly and legibly labelled with the angler’s first initial, last name, home address, and the name or the Division of Motor Vehicles registration number (AK number) of the vessel used to operate the pot on a keg or buoy attached to each pot. Pots used to take Dungeness crab must have at least two escape rings that each are not less than four and three-eighths inches, inside diameter; the rings must be located on opposite sides of the pot and the upper half of the vertical plane of the pot. Live holding facilities utilized to accumulate or pool multiple bag limits by an individual or individuals are not allowed. All pots used must meet the following gear requirements

2. Maryland

Where are the Best Crabbing Spots?

There are a variety of great crabbing spots in Maryland. Here is an extensive list of the best ones below:

  • Matapeake State Park, Route 8, Kent Island
  • Romancoke Pier, Route 8, south end of Kent Island
  • Point Lookout, Route 5, St. Mary’s County
  • Oak Creek and Claiborne ramps, Route 33, Talbot County
  • Neavitt ramp, Route 579, Talbot County
  • Madison and Slaughter Creek ramps, Route 16, Dorchester County
  • Assawoman and Sinepuxtent bays, Ocean City
  • Solomons Island fishing pier, Route 2, Calvert County
  • Kings Landing Park, off Route 4, Calvert County
  • Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park, U.S. 50 at the Choptank River.
  • St Michaels, Tilghman.
Crab Fishing/Crabbing in Maryland

Nice haul of Crabs caught at St Maries, Maryland. Photo by: www.stmichaelsmd.org

Which Crab types can you catch?

Blue Crabs are a popular catch in this state. Very common in coastal lagoons. To spot one look out for the bright blue, glossy looking claws!  Their carapace is a brown hue and with mature females having red highlights on the tips of their pincers.  According to Maryland fisheries law, “You cannot keep Females” . A useful tip to remember which is female : “female crabs wear red nail polish!” Males have long, pointy “aprons” on their undersides, while female aprons are rounded or triangle shaped.

Large Blue Crab, blue claws

(Large Blue Crab shown here with its famous sapphire claws. Source: nwf.org)

Weighing it at around 1-3lbs these are a great catch. They can be found from around Nova Scotia, down past the Gulf of Mexico, and all the way down to Uruguay!

When is Crabbing Season?

The peak season for Maryland Blue Crabs is from April to the end of November. The biggest, heaviest crabs are typically harvested during the fall months (September to mid-November).

Do I need a license?

You don’t need a license if you’re crabbing with dip nets or hand held lines. However, you do need a Maryland recreational crabbing license to use net rings, seines, trotlines and collapsible crab traps. 

Legal Crab Sizes:

From April 1 to July 14, hard crabs must be at least 5 inches across from the tips of their spikes.  After July 14, the minimum size increases to 5 1/4 inches. Male peeler crabs must be 3 1/4 inches across, and 3 1/2 inches after July 14. Soft crabs must always be at least 3 1/2 inches. 

Other Crabbing Laws to Follow:

  • Do not keep the female crabs.
  • You can only catch one bushel of hard crabs per day for personal consumption. If you’re on a boat, only up to two bushels can be caught per day, irrelevant of how many people are on the boat.

3. Alabama

Crab fishing in Alabama is big business with, Alabama fishermen catching between 1 and 2.5 million pounds of crab out of the Mississippi south and gulf of Mexico annually.  A local love of Alabama indeed!

Best Crabbing Spots?

Catching blue crabs on the Alabama Gulf Coast is very easy and extremely popular with families and young kids. This is a great time to get the kids of the Xbox and outdoors to teach them crab fishing and the ethical importance of catch and release.  Blue crabs are found dwelling in the back bays and passes during the summer period. 

Crab Fishing/Crabbing in Alabama

Photo of Miller Wilder holding a blue crab caught from Little Lagoon. Photo by: gulf-shores-alabama.net

Crab Types to catch in Alabama?

Blue Crab is the most popular and easy to catch. 

Fun Fact: 

An estimated  5 million pounds of live blue crabs are processed annually in Alabama, with trucks arriving each night from neighboring states like Mississippi Louisiana, and Florida.

When is Crabbing season?

You’ll find the freshest catch between March and November. During these prime months, blue crabs can be found scuttling near the shore or in bay waters along the coast. Crabs migrate to deeper waters as cold weather approaches.

Do I need a License?

Even for recreational crabbing, you must possess a saltwater fishing license.

According to the Alabama Department of the Conservation of Natural Resources:

Females:

  • The possession of egg-bearing female crabs, otherwise known as gravid, berried or sponge crabs, will be prohibited and must be immediately returned to the water. There will be an exception from January 15 through May 15 each year. 

Crab Traps:

  • All crab traps must contain at least two unobstructed escape rings with a minimum inside diameter of 2 5/16 inches located on vertical surfaces. There must be one ring per chamber. Catchers will have until March 1, 2018 to have the escape rings installed. 
  • From April 1 through September 30, a licensed crab catcher may obstruct or remove the escape rings after obtaining a free permit from the Marine Resources Division, for the purpose of catching pre-molt crabs, otherwise known as “busters” or “peelers.” 
  • The closure line in the northeast corner of Mobile Bay in the Blakeley River running from Blakeley Channel marker 18 to the southern tip of Big Island will be removed. Crab traps may be placed up to the eastbound lane of Interstate-10 at the Blakeley River. 
  • During the first and second day of each calendar month, a validly licensed crab catcher may recover traps that are unidentified and derelict or abandoned. The catcher must make a report to AMRD with the number of traps, the location and any additional information required by AMRD. These reports must be made by close of the next business day (excludes holidays and weekends). 

Source and for more great info see: OutdoorAlabama 

4. California

Where are the Best Crabbing Spots?

  1. Dillon Beach. Doran Beach.
  2. Sonoma Coast State Beach – Bodega Head.
  3. Salt Point State Park.
  4. Goat Rock State Beach.
  5. Fort Ross State Historic Park.
  6. Ocean Cove Campground.
  7. Schoolhouse Beach.

For the Dungeness Crab, San Francisco: The recreational season is currently limited to south of Point Reyes. Popular places to catch Dungeness:

  • Pacifica Municipal Pier at high tide,  – (Town and Tourist Community Best spot)
  • Pillar Point at Half Moon Bay,
  • Baker Beach,
  • Ocean Beach
  • Fort Funston

Remember:  It’s illegal to catch Dungeness crab within the San Francisco or San Pablo Bays.

Dungeness Crabbing in Northern California

Dungeness Crabbing in Northern California a great family tradition! Photo by T. Klassen, Source: cdfwmarine.wordpress.com

Crab types in California?

Dungeness Crab

The Dungeness crab is probably the best one to catch in California and the most commercially sought after due to its size, taste and abundance of meat!  They mostly dwell in eel grass beds and ocean floors.  The carapaces of Dungeness crabs are oval-shaped and range in color from a yellowy/brown to purple. Rock crab types, can be found dwelling nearby to Jetty rocks and pilings at the Pacifica Pier.

Top Tip: They have hooks on their claws that distinguish them from other crab species.

Dungeness Crabbing in Northern California

Dungeness crab caught in California at half moon bay. Source: (CDFW Marine Management News) Photo by J. Newman.

When is Crabbing Season?

According to Wildlife California.gov:

The recreational fishery for Dungeness crab(Metacarcinus magister) is open from November – Late June  south of the Mendocino-Sonoma county border

Do I need a License?

Crabbing from a public pier, such as Pacifica’s, does not require a license, but you will need a license to fish from a boat, shoreline or jetty.

Crab Limits per person/Day:

10 per person, per day (lower on sport fishing boats).

Size Limits: The crab’s shell must measure 5¾ inches across.

Cost of a fishing License:

Fishing licenses in California cost $15.12 per day or $47.01 per year for state residents. See California department of Fish & Wildlife for more details:

5. Florida

Best Crabbing Spots?

Simpson Creek (South of Amelia Island)

Located in between the southern tip of Amelia Island and Jacksonville. This is a great place to catch massive blue crabs! (My cousin went fishing out their and was shocked by the size!). Your best bet is to take a boat, canoe or Kayak to get the most of of the trip.

How to get there?

Head south from Amelia Island on the First Coast Highway, cross the Nassau Sound Bridge, then look for a creek around 3 miles after.

Florida Panhandle – (Mexico Beach – Port st Joe)

This spot is at a gulf between Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe. Look for the large bridge, which connects the two towns.  Head underneath that bridge and you will find a fantastic place to catch blue crabs. This is an easy spot for line and handheld net fishing.

Top Tip: Anna Maria Island, close by is great for stone crabs.

Amelia Island – (Northeast Florida)

Head to Amelia Island and the Amelia river at Fort Clinch state park.  This spot is popular with blue crabs. For line crabbing, the shoreline is fine beware of going too deep as the deep channel can be dangerous. Box traps are also great to be used here, simply tie to the small dock and haul away!

Crabbing at Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a beautiful spot. Photo by: www.atlantamagazine.com

Crab Types in Florida?

Stone Crab

Stone Crabs are very popular in the Florida area, with the majority originated from here. Keep a look out for 6-inch to 3-foot holes around dock pilings!  They actually dig big holes themselves using shells as spades!

How to spot the stone Crab?

Stone crabs are a brownish red hue with gray spots. The Stone Crab Claws: Once captured Stone Crabs have their claws removed and are put back in the ocean where they regrow new claws! 

Stone Crabs in Florida

Catching stone crabs with the great, floridasportsman.com

Fun Fact: Stone Crabs live on average for 7-8 years, and females can lay up to 1,000,000 eggs at a time!

Blue Crab:

According to a crab fisheries survey, Blue crab very abundant in the Florida Area. These are arguably the tastiest and often most expensive to buy! So definitely worth capturing next time your in Florida.

When is Crabbing Season Here?

Blue crab season is all year round in Florida. 

Fishing boat florida

A charter boat preparing to sail, Source: visitflorida.com

However, if you decide to crab further than three miles out from the shore in the gulf of Mexico, there can be short closures.

Do I need a License?

You need a standard fishing license to crab in Florida. For Trap regulations and other details check out the Florida Fish Commission.

6. Lousiana

Best Crabbing Spots?

  • Elmer’s Island
  • Hackberry, near Sulphur. Blue Crab Recreational Area
  • Pointe Aux Chene WMA
  • Bonecarre spillway in LaPlace
  • Rockefeller 
  • Along highway 27, South of the Gibbstown bridge
  • Bayou Lacombe

Other great areas area Seabrook Area , Marsh Island. Alternatively take a Day trip to places like Grand Isle State Park in the east, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.

Crabbing in Louisiana

Crabbing in Rockefeller, Louisiana . Source: app.louisianasportsman.com

Best Crabs to catch?

Catching blue crabs is a extremely popular for locals and tourists of the Louisiana coast. 

When is Crabbing Season?

Crab season follows the same path as shrimping season, with the peak months running from April through July.

Do I need a License?

You do not need a fishing license to use a crab line, or a dip net.

Crab Traps:

However, you need a license if you have crab traps . A basic (salt and freshwater) fishing license is needed and a or non-commercial license. You are allowed up to 10 marked traps. The collapsible string traps, as opposed to the metal ones, are considered dip nets.

Cane Pole:

As far as the cane pole, yes, you are required to have a license but it does not have to be a basic fishing license – there is a cheaper “hook and line” license you can purchase, which allows you to legally fish with a cane pole.

At the Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Some people crab here without a license, however officially you REQUIRE a basic license to crab there.  My people get confused on this issue. For further info and License prices see the, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries website.

7. Oregon

Where are the Best Crabbing Spots?

  • Newport (Yaquina Bay),
  • Waldport (Alsea Bay)
  • Netarts
  • Lincoln City (Siletz Bay).
  • Garibaldi (Tillamook Bay),
  • Reedsport (Winchester Bay),
Crab Fishing in Oregon

On the majestic Nehalem Bay, Kelly’s Brighton Marina is the premier spot for crabbing, fishing, camping and more.

Located on Hwy 101 just north of Rockaway Beach, Kelly’s Brighton Marina offers RV parking, tent camping, boating, fishing and of course crabbing!

Best Crabs to catch?

Dungeness and red rock crabs are popular in the vast number of bays in Oregon.

When is Crabbing season?

Popular months for crab fishing in Oregon are:

Late July – February.

Outside of these months,  the crabs most likely won’t  meet the size requirements.

Do I need a License?

You are required a license to harvest the crabs and other shellfish, With a legally allowed number of three traps per person.

8. Seattle, Washington

Best Crabbing Spots?

Crab fishing in Seattle has some great spots including:

  • Discovery Bay
  • Port Susan
  • Birch Bay.
  • Hood Canal,

Generally, the Dungeness crab can be found in Puget Sound, Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.

Crabbing in Seattle Washington

Awe-inspiring and tranquil sunset at Seattle Hood Canal.

Our Favourite is hood canal! You can see why with this wonderful sunset!

Best Crabs to catch?

Dungeness and red rock crabs are the most popular here.

When is Crabbing Season?

The various crabbing seasons vary by location. Here is a list of the spots with an “All year round Open season”

  • South Coast/Pacific Ocean – All Year round open.
  • Columbia River – All year round open.
  • Westport/Ocean Shores – All year round open
  • Willapa Bay – All year round open.
  • Grays Harbour – All year round open.
  • Lapush – All year round open.

For an Extensive list of the Crab Season for other spots check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Do I need a License?

You must obtain a state shellfish license (and catch record card for Dungeness) crab fishing in Washington. Other Rules to follow are;  You must, harvest only male crabs with a hard shell and release soft-shell crabs back into the water.

For licenses and more info check out. Wdfw

9. Texas

Where are the Best Crabbing Spots?

Popular Crab fishing locations in Texas include:

  • Pointe West,
  • Rockport (Goose island)
  • Crab Lake (in Galveston County).
Crabbing in Goose Island, Texas

Goose Island is a spectacular fishing spot! Photo by: Texasbob.com

Safety Note on Galveston Bay: Although an outstanding place to fish, you need to be aware of seafood consumption advisories, due to contaminants. See this link for further details: Galvbay Seafood Advisories.

Best Crabs to catch?

Blue Crabs are pretty popular here. Stone Crabs are also a good catch.

When is Crabbing Season?

Crabbing season is all year round in Southern Texas, with the exception of a couple of weeks.

Do I need a License?

Residents age 17 and older are required to purchase an annual saltwater fishing license to crab fish in the Gulf. A freshwater license (for crabbing off-bay) requires a license, or you may get an all-water license.

Trap Limits:

You’re limited to using six traps at a time if fishing recreationally, and you may need gear tags for your traps. In certain areas, such as near navigable channels, you may be limited to three traps. For more info see: Texas Gov

10. North Carolina

Generating more than $100 million per year, those tasty blue crabs are in abundance in North Carolina.

Best Crabbing Spots?

  • Cape Fear River
  • Ocracoke waterways
  • Lake Mattamuskeet
  • Newport River
  • South River

Our favourite here was Ocracoke waterways, we went in June and found vast populations of large blue crabs!

Crabbing in Northern Carolina Summer

Summer at Castle Hayne Boat Ramp Cape fear. Source: capefear-nc.com

Best Crabs to catch?

Blue Crabs are the best, but also Stone Crabs can be caught here. In terms of catch and release procedures.  Stone crab claws measuring at least 2 ¾ inches at the forearm are acceptable to harvest.  Male blue crabs are acceptable when measuring five inches. You cannot keep female crabs with eggs.

When is Crabbing season?

Any time between May and October.

Do I need a license?

According to North Carolina’s fishing regulations, no license is required if you set a single crab pot off a private pier or private beach with the property owner’s permission. … If your crabbing excursion does not fall within those stipulations, you need a recreational commercial gear license.

11. New Jersey

Check out the creeks, rivers and shallow, saltwater bays for great places to go crab fishing in New Jersey.

Best Crabbing spots?

Hudson River  to Delaware Bay you will find some amazing spots.

  • Keansburg Fishing Pier (Raritan Bay),
  • Dividing Creek,
  • Seaside Heights docks at Barnegat Bay.
  • Good Luck Point (at Ocean Gate),
  • Berkeley Island County Park
  • Playhouse Drive (Mystic Islands) ,
Crabbing at Seaside heights

Seaside Heights popular for Crabbing during the hot Summer in NJ.

Which Crab types to catch?

Tasty Blue crabs are popular along the New Jersey coast.

When is Crabbing Season?

Peak season: June – October  (When the water is the warmest)  General Open Season: March – November , April – December

Early Bird Catches the Crab! 

The best time of day to go crabbing in New Jersey is in the early morning between the hours of 4:30 a.m.and 8:30 a.m. At this time the crabs are most active.

Do I need a license?

You do not need a fishing license to catch blue crabs in New Jersey. However you are limited to harvesting one bushel per day. For further Details see: NJ.Gov

12. Georgia

Where are the Best Crabbing spots?

Crabbing Glynn County. – St Simons Island.

Head towards to Southern Georgia and along the  Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway .There you will find St Simons Island.  A popular retreat for crabbing, golf, water sports and angling! Pier crabbing is abundant from St. Simons Island Pier, located in the Village area and Jekyll Island Pier at the north end of the island in the Clam Creek picnic space.

McIntosh County Crabbing (Darien Town)

Head to the small town of Darien in Mcintosh County for a spectacular tide river and variety of marshes, this is a great crabbing spot.

Some top crabbing spots here include the:

  • Along Coastal Highway 17 (Bridges and Docks)
  • Black Beard Islands
  • Butler Island
  • Sapelo

Tip: Anywhere surrounding wildlife refugees are usually good spots! 

Tybee Island (Chatham County)

Head around 15 minutes to the east from Savannah and you will arrive at Tybee Island. This is a great crabbing area with nice rock jetties near the mouth of Wilmington River and sandy beaches to relax on afterwards!

Crabbing/Crab fishing at Savannahs, Tybee island

What better place to relax after a long days crabbing, Savannahs, Tybee island. Source: visitsavannah.com

Which Crab types to catch? 

Blue or stone crabs are popular here.

When is Crabbing Season?

Crabbing in Georgia is all year-round, with peak harvest expected between August and October.

Do I need a license?

A recreational fishing license is required which allows you to drop up to six crab pots from a boat or a dock. Keep up to a bushel per day if fishing alone or two bushels per day in the case of vessels with more than one person.

Crab Size required:

Males must be at least 5 inches, with peelers at least 3 inches. For more info see Georgia.gov


We hope you found this list informative, inspirational and didn’t scare the “Crab” out of you with some states licensing requirements! Comment below with your favourite crab fishing spots and the best thing you love about crab fishing!

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Town & Tourist

A travel resource guide that has been carefully crafted and curated by travel bloggers to help you find the best places to travel to in the USA.