Crabbing in Newport Oregon: The Definitive Guide

newport oregon crabbing

Crabbing in Newport Oregon: The Definitive Guide

The other activity Finn loved to do with his family growing (besides salmon fishing and clamming) was crabbing for Dungeness crab in Newport Oregon. Almost every time they went salmon fishing, they also brought along several crab pots to catch crab as well.

While salmon can prove difficult to catch if you don’t really know what you are doing, crab are much more forgiving. Even when they first started out by renting a tiny skiff, Finn had success catching crab in Newport’s Yaquina Bay. That was many years ago now, and he’s perfected how to catch crab on the Oregon coast. 

In this article, we’ll cover all the necessities of successful crabbing: what equipment you need to go crabbing in Newport, when the best time of year to crabbing is, as well as what time of day you should go crabbing. We’ll also show you exactly where you should place your crab pots and rings for the most success, as well as what baits we like to use most. 

Let’s get ready to go crabbing!

What Do I Need to Go Crabbing in Newport Oregon?

Compared to other kinds of fishing, crabbing requires only a few essential tools to be successful. Here’s everything you’ll need.

  • A crab pot or crab ring.
  • At least 40 feet of rope.
  • A buoy.
  • Crab bait.
  • Gloves.
  • A crab measuring stick.
  • Up to date crab license.

That’s pretty much it! We’d add luck to the list, but if you follow our directions you won’t need it. There are so many crabs on the Oregon coast that if you go at the right time you’ll almost always catch some.

Notes on Crabbing Supplies

A few more notes on the supplies you’ll need for crabbing. We like to use a combination of crab pots and rings. Crab pots you’ll want to let soak for at least an hour to give the crabs time to climb into them. Rings, on the other hand, are much easier for crabs to walk into. We check out rings every 30 minutes. 

Having the combination of pots and rings allows us to maximize the ground we cover and catch the most crabs.

For your rope, if you’re crabbing from a boat we highly recommend getting a leaded line. This will ensure your line sinks in the water and will prevent it from catching or getting tangled on nearby boats. We can’t count the number of times someone is using regular rope and it gets snagged on another boat. Use led roped it doesn’t cost that much more and is much less of a hassle for everyone. If you’re crabbing from a dock or the shore, you don’t need to worry about it.

Along those lines, we like to use stand-up buoys that include a flag. This makes sure everyone can see your crab trap and makes fishing it out of the water much easier. This might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re using rings you’ll want to pull them out of the water as fast as possible. If you’re fumbling around with the buoy in the water, you’re giving smart crabs time to climb out of the ring!

We like using either waterproof gardening gloves or fishing gloves to protect your hands from the rope. They also come in handy when you have to handle feisty crabs to measure them. Eventually, a crab will end up pinching you, and having thicker gloves will be nice.

When is the Best Time to Go Crabbing in Oregon?

The best time of year to go crabbing for Dungeness crab in Oregon are during months that end with the letter R. Why is this the case? Well, months that end with the letter R also happen to be in the fall, which is when crab congregate close to shore in large numbers to mate.

It’s legal to catch crab any time of year, but the number you can keep changes whether you are crabbing inland or in the open ocean. Be sure to check Oregon’s fish and wildlife website for the exact dates and laws. 

What Time of Day is Best for Crabbing?

This is kind of a trick question because the best time of day to catch crab is during slack tides – so either right around high tide or right around low tide. Since high tides and low tides change every day, you’ll need to look at the tide tables to pick when you should go. 

Some crabbers believe that the absolute best time to go crabbing is after the incoming tide, as the incoming tide brings fresh crabs from out in the ocean into the bays. In theory, it also brings in food for the crabs and encourages them to feed.

In our experience, both high tide and low tide can be great for crabbing. We haven’t seen a difference between incoming or outgoing tides. You just want to be in the water when it is moving the least. This gives the crab the most flexibility to find your bait.

Where is the Best Spot for Crabbing in Newport?

There are several great spots for crabbing in Newport. If you don’t have a boat, we recommend going crabbing off of the pier circled in red on the map below. If you have a boat, awesome! Check out the map below the first one with the blue circles to see some of our favorite spots.

A few things to keep in mind. If you place your traps at low tide, be aware that the water level will rise over time. This means you need to have the extra length in your rope or you will end up losing your buoy and most likely your trap. The water will likely lift your pot or ring off the bottom and it will float away!

If you decide to place your traps in the jetty, DO NOT place them in the middle of the channel. Many big boats come in and out of Yaquina Bay every day, and it will be a quick way to piss people off/lose your equipment. Respect your neighbors while crabbing in Newport Oregon!

newport pier crabbing

newport bay crabbing boat

What’s the Best Bait for Crabbing?

Another really common question we get is what the best bait for crabbing in Newport Oregon is. We’ve been crabbing for many years and have tried pretty much everything. Here’s what works best for us. It’s also worth noting that you should freeze your meats ahead of time so they don’t make a mess in your boat. They’ll thaw out in the water and work fine.

Mink

What’s mink you ask? It’s basically a ferret. There are several mink farms close to Newport that the local bait shop has connections with. You can buy frozen mink carcasses from them, for a few bucks. Why does mink work so well? We’re not sure, but it does! We think the carcasses have a strong smell that attracts crabs.

Frozen Chicken 

We like using old chicken thighs that spent too much time in our freezer, or leftover chicken carcasses we couldn’t finish.

Salmon Heads

If you end up catching any salmon, try and remember to save the heads for crabbing! You can also often find some in the dumpsters near the boat launch. Just be ready to dumpster dive and deal with the stench if you go that route. One note with using salmon heads – we’ve heard reports of seals tearing into people’s traps especially if they aren’t built well. We’ve never experienced this, but just be aware and close your traps with zip ties. 

Any Other Old Frozen Meat

Pork chops, old lamb, we’ve tried it all and it works. If you don’t want to eat, the crab will!

How to Go Crabbing in Newport Oregon

Now that you’ve got all the supplies to go crabbing in Newport, let’s quickly go over general techniques. We’ll cover the best practices for both crabbing from shore and crabbing from a boat.

Crabbing from Shore

  1. Load your crab ring or pot up with a piece of bait.
  2. Find a spot on the dock or from the shore where you can throw your trap.
  3. Swing your pot/ring out into the water ensuring it stays upright. If it flips over you’ll need to re toss it!
  4. If it is a ring, let it sit for at least 15 minutes. If it is a pot let it sit for at least an hour (or more)
  5. Pull rings in quickly to ensnare any unlucky crabs. With pots, you can take your time since they can’t escape.
  6. Measure and keep any legal crabs. Make sure you know how to identify males and females! Females have a wider abdomen and a bulge in the back of their shells. Check out this link to see. It should be obvious.
  7. Replace the bait if it is gone and repeat the process!

Crabbing from a Boat

  1. Boat out to the recommended spots on the maps above.
  2. Load your traps up with bait first and drop them in first. You want them to soak for the longest amount of time (more crabs!).
  3. Make sure your ropes are long enough and that your traps don’t flip when you drop them in the water. We like to place our rings and traps in 15 to 25 feet deep water.
  4. Keep track of where your placements are on your GPS or by just remembering. Remembering the order is important too.
  5. After your traps are in the water, place your rings in a line in one of the recommended spots. Take note of the time when you place the first ring in the water. We like placing them 50 to 100 feet apart from one another in a line so we can easily remember which ones have been in the water the longest. 
  6. After the first ring has been in the water at least 30 minutes, you can begin pulling them from the water to check for crabs.
  7. Keep any crabs that are big enough and aren’t female, and throw the rest back in the water.
  8. We like to check out pots after 2 to 3 hours to see if they are in a good location. If they don’t have any crabs in them/not very many, empty them and move them to a new location.

Cooking Your Crabs

Its been a few hours and you’ve caught some crab. Congrats! We’ll now go over how we like to cook them. We prefer cooking our crabs outside since they have a strong smell while boiling. We use an outside burner and 5-gallon pot to cook them. Fill the pot halfway with fresh water, bring to a boil, then throw your crab in. Boil them for around 15 minutes, then remove and let cool down.

Now you’ll need to clean them. We break them in half down the middle over the sinks and wash out all the guts. The meat you’ll want to eat is in the legs and the base of the legs. 

All that’s left is to heat up some salted butter, crack open the legs, and enjoy your freshly caught crab!

cooked crab

Parting Thoughts

Crabbing in Newport Oregon is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy in. Whether you have a boat or not, crabbing is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon and catch an awesome meal. We hope you found this guide on catching crab in Newport Oregon helpful, and if you have any additional questions hit us up on the comments.

Happy Hunting!