DUNGENESS and RED ROCK CRABS

Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister) and rock crabs (Cancer productus) and (Cancer antennarius) are the three species of crabs of interest to the recreational crabber, but of the three, Dungeness crabs are the most desirable. Dungeness crabs are common from the Aleutian Islands to Point Conception, California.  

This 6 ¼ inch Dungeness bonus crab was caught while digging clams. The white tipped claws distinguish Dungeness crabs from red rock crabs. The red rock crab displayed below was caught in Yaquina Bay.

Adult Dungeness crabs occur primarily in the ocean from the intertidal zone to a depth of 754 feet but most often in the subtidal zone from a depth of 18 to 90 feet over a substrate of sand, mud or the preferred substrate of mixed sand and mud or in the dense cover of the eelgrass beds. 

Oregon’s red rock crabs (Cancer productus) and the Pacific rock crab (Cancer antennarius) are distinguished from Dungeness crabs by the presence of black tips on their claws and by their red to reddish brown color. Do not confuse the identity of red rock and Dungeness crabs. Dungeness crabs with white tipped claws are often identified as red rock crabs during their purple color phase.

Red rock crabs have a relatively short life span of 7 years and their carapace attain a maximum width of 7 plus inches.  Red rock crabs as their name implies prefer rocky substrate up to depths of 260 feet in the open ocean. They are common in Tillamook, Netarts, Yaquina and Coos Bays near docks, riprap and among the eel grass beds.

Crabbers may keep 24 red rock crabs of any sex and size, but only large red rock crabs with large claws are worth keeping because of the difficulty encountered while picking the crabmeat from the cartilage of the honeycomb body segments. The rich distinctive flavor of the crabmeat from red rock crabs especially the meat in the claws taste sweeter than that of Dungeness crabs.  Red rock crabs are difficult to pick. Once the decision is made to keep red rock crabs take the time to pick the meat from the crabs. The smiles from your family and friends are your reward for making effort and taking the time to do so.

Dungeness and red rock crabs grow by molting. The crabs are enclosed in a rigid exterior skeleton that they must shed to grow. Molting takes place multiple times during the first year of life and at a declining rate thereafter until the crabs reach sexual maturity. Dungeness crabs molt annually once they achieve sexual maturity. Red rock crabs molt semiannually until the reaching 6 inches in size.

Dungeness crabs breed when sexually mature females molt during April, May and June breeding with the hard shell male crabs. Red rock crabs breed from June through October. Male Dungeness crabs molt throughout the year with the overwhelming majority molting from late June through July and into August. 

Dungeness crabs hatch from January through March and grow rapidly. They measure 4 inches across the back and are sexually mature by the time they are 18 to 24 months old.  Male Dungeness crabs that measure 5 3/4 inches across the back are 3 years old. Male Dungeness crabs live from eight to ten years and the carapace grow to a maximum width of 8.5 to 10 plus inches wide. The weight of Dungeness crabs varies between 2 and 4.5 pounds, but only large male Dungeness crabs may be kept.

To keep male Dungeness crabs in Oregon they must measure 5 3/4 inches wide or wider in a straight line across the back immediately in front of but not including the points of the carapace as shown in the ODFW photograph. Male crabs have an elongated abdominal flap on their underside and female crabs have a rounded abdominal flap on their underside. Carefully return female crabs, undersized crabs and softshell crabs to the bay immediately without injury. Recall all of the male crabs that were just a little too short to keep last fall they are the crabs that molted during the summer and are the crabs we will harvest this fall.  Newly molted crabs are extremely vulnerable to damage and predation and will hide in the eel grass or under the sand until their new shell expands and begins to harden. Once their shells begin to harden the crabs become active feeding voraciously for the next 2 to 3 months while their shells fill with the sweet flesh crabber’s desire.  Hard shell Dungeness crabs yield 25 percent of their body weight in useable meat compared to the yield of soft shell crabs which can as low as 12 percent in newly molted crabs.                                  

CRAB MAX CRAB TRAPS

Folding crab traps are a recent innovation that is changing the face of crabbing from crab docks and the sandy shore. The Crab Max Crab Trap is made in Lincoln City by handicap man, Bill Paterek and his blind buddy Merl. The Crab Max was named in honor of Bill's dog, Max.

The Crab Max Crab Trap is made in Lincoln City by handicap man Bill Patereck. Bill lives at 4800 #3 Inlet SE. 541-996-2427

Crab Max crab traps are also available through our Websites or one of our scheduled Crab Clinic classes sponsored each spring and summer by the Driftwood Library and the Lincoln City Visitor's Bureau and at various retail outlets along the Oregon coast from Brooking to Astoria; however, the Crab Max and Crab Daddy products are not available at either BiMart or Ace Hardware in Lincoln City.

Once the decision is made to purchase a Crab Max Crab Trap, Do not cut or untie any of the lines on the crab trap. Read the instructional pamphlet enclosed in the trap by the manufacturer. Use at your own risk.  Be sure to wear gloves when deploying or retrieving the traps. Always use the T Handle when throwing the trap into the water to avoid injuring yourself or others.

To use the crab max with the hand line, uncoil all 100 feet of the hand line from the wooden hand line holder. To use the crab max with the hand line uncoil the hand line then reverse coil the hand line back toward the wooden hand line holder. Open the trap by sliding the ball bearing swivel off of the bait pin. Unfold the crab trap. Open the bait clip by sliding the bait pin sleeve of the bait pin. Insert the bait pin through a chicken leg at the large end of the chicken leg. Fasten the bait pin containing the chicken leg to the trap by sliding the bait pin sleeve over the bait pin. Step on the wooden line holder, grasp the hand line by the T Handle only and look behind you to ensure the area is clear. Spin the crab trap several times in a circular motion and throw the crab trap into the water. The T-Handle on the hand line is set to achieve the maxium distance when spun in a circular motion and thrown into the water. When crabbing is good wait for 5 minutes before pulling the Crab Max crab trap filled with all sizes of Dungeness Crabs.

The Crab Max Trap is easily the finest folding crab trap on the market today. Made from high quality stainless steel and materials the Crab Max crab trap is easily used with a hand line using our exclusive, "T Handle" to throw the crab trap up to 100 feet or cast with a fishing pole as shown below.

The crabber in the photograph was able to deliver the Crab Max 80 feet into the bay on her 2nd try. Her frist attempt went 30 feet but she achieved success on the 2nd attempt demostrating that children of all ages can crab with the Crab Max folding crab trap.

Hand lines using our exclusive, "T Handle" and the quality of materials is the difference between our crab trap and other crab traps. You will be using our folding crab traps long after you have thrown the others away. The use of hand lines is exclusive to Crab Max because you do not have to spend upwards of $150.00 to purchase expensive rod, reels and lines to use for each crab trap. Think about it $150.00 will buy 4 Crab Max crab traps with hand lines; all you have to do is buy some chicken legs and you are ready to crab. Wear gloves to reduce the risk of injury while deploying or retrieving the hand line and trap.

The cost of the Crab Max folding crab traps sold at retail outlets along the Oregon Coast is 34.95 ea. Our price is $30.00 per Crab Max crab trap with a hand line for each Crab Max crab traps and handlines and $30.00 per when ordering 2 or more crab traps with handlines. Checkout our Crab Max Starter Kit list below for those new to crabbing.

Using the Crab Max folding crab trap is the most cost effective method used to take crabs from Oregon's bays. Consider that crabbing from the shore with folding crab traps has become the primary recreational activity for many families.

Click on the photograph to view a short video clip of the Dungeness crabs caught in Siletz Bay using Crab Max crab traps.

Click on the sculpture of the Chinook salmon to view a video clip of our free crabbing class on Siletz Bay showing a couple with their first legal Dungeness crab ever. The video shows participants deploying the Crab Max crab traps into Siletz Bay.

Walking the walk and talking the talk with Crab Max crab traps. Crabbing in Yaquina Bay, to view video of crabbing in Yaquina Bay. More crabbing in Yaquina Bay. Bill Lackner displays two of 14 large red rock crabs he caught off the Bay Street Pier using a Crab Max folding crab trap and a surf rod. Bill caught lots of Dungeness crabs but they were either larger females or males that were 1/4 to 1/16 of an inch too short to keep.

It is common to catch up to 3 legal sized crabs at a time when the crabs are in the bays; however, I used only 1 Crab Max with a hand line to take the 3 legal Dungeness crabs shown below from the Coast Guard Pier in Winchester Bay. Three Dungeness crabs were all I needed to make a wonderful Crab Louie for my wife and I while we were camped at nearby Eel Lake.

The CRAB MAX is innovative by design and easy to use. The CRAB MAX comes equipped with 100 foot hand line. Compare and consider the difference in the photos below. A 5 gallon bucket, a Crab Max crab trap and bait versus the wheel barrow and all the other stuff.

Truly versatile, the Crab Max is compact and easy to use with a hand line of surf rod

To use the crab max with the hand line uncoil the hand line then reverse coil the hand line back toward the wooden hand line holder. Open the trap by sliding the ball bearing swivel off of the bait pin. Unfold the crab trap. Open the bait clip by sliding the bait pin sleeve of the bait pin. Insert the bait pin through a chicken leg. Fasten the bait pin containing the chicken leg to the trap by sliding the bait pin sleeve over the bait pin. Step on the wooden line holder, grasp the hand line by the T Handle and look behind you to ensure the area is clear. Spin the crab trap several times in an elliptical orbit and throw the crab trap into the water. When crabbing is good wait for 5 minutes before pulling the Crab Max crab trap filled with all sizes of Dungeness Crabs. Well, when crabbing is slow wait longer and read a book, fish, picnic or record your crabbing adventure with your family and friends with photos or on video. Wear gloves or crab at your own risk when deploying or retrieving the Crab Max crab trap to prevent injuring you fingers.

Click on the photo of the crabs to view the video clip of our crabbing adventure to Siletz Bay during the vernal equinox.

The photo above demonstrates the importance of crabbing during the vernal equinox of the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Can you figure it out?

Crabbing from the north shore was a planned event to see if we enjoyed the same level of success that we experienced at the vernal equinox of the summer solstice. The Equinoxes is when the sunlight shines equally on both the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere. The crabs were taken by my friend, Dustin and myself using the Crab Max folding crab traps baited with turkey necks, wings, legs and chicken legs. Ultimately, we retained 22 hard shell barnacle encrusted crabs. We returned 9 plus soft shell legal sized male crabs to the water. Our success of taking limits of Dungeness yesterday, September 23 exceeded our expectations!!!

Crab catch capacity and high quality materials is the measure that separates the Crab Max from other folding crab traps. The 18 inch dimension really pays off when crabbing is hot as shown in the video clip of crabbers on the beach at Siletz Bay. It is not unusual to catch 3 or more keeper sized Dungeness crabs per pull. Click HERE to see the price list or to purchase the CRAB MAX.

If you are new to crabbing save $5.50 by taking advantage of our Crab Max Starter Kit consisting of a Crab Max Crab Trap with a hand line, a crab gage, a Crab Daddy wooden crab mallet and the book Oregon's crabs for $45.50 and purchase an additional Crab Max Crab Trap for $75.50 for 2 traps and $105.50 for 3 Crab Max Crab Traps with hand lines. The shipping and handling charge varies from 8.75 for residents of Oregon and Washington and $9.75 for residents of California and Idaho and increasing amounts for orders shipped to other states.

We recommend using the Crab Max with the hand lines over any other method when crabbing from a crabbing dock or from the sandy shore. The Crab Max are attached to the barrel swivel on the hand line with a cross lock snap. Using a Crab Max with a hand line is the most cost effective method to take crabs from the Oregon shore. Using a Crab Max is easier for women and kids to crab than using other methods.

The CRAB MAX shown below in the open position with approximately 100 foot hand line is a proven folding crab trap that outperforms conventional crab rings and other folding crab traps.

The Crab Max folding crab trap and hand line cost $30.00 ea for one single trap and hand line ordered. Order 2 or more Crab Max folding crab traps and the cost is $30.00 ea per trap and hand line ordered. Order three traps with handl ines for a total of $90.00. Add $4.00 to your order amount to complete the Crab Max Special and we will include 1 of our preminum crab gages and 1 of our wooden crab mallets to your order. Click HERE to order one of our Crab Max specials. The cost of the shipping and handling charge based on your zip code. The shipping and handling charge varies from 8.75 for residents of Oregon and Washington and $9.75 for residents of California and Idaho and increasing amounts for residents of other states.

Hand Lines

Hand lines are the most efficient way to use the Crab Max, especially for women and children. Not only are hand lines the most efficient they are the most economical. We recommend to crabbers using fishing poles to cast their Crab Max to order hand lines as backup should the fishing rods fail. The hand lines are also purchased by crabbers who use them on other brands of folding crab traps. The cost of the hand lines is $9.00 per Tuna Cord hand line plus $6.80 shipping and handling charge. Click HERE to see the information for ordering Hand Lines.

Click HERE to see the product and pricing information for the Crab Max crab traps and the other fine products we sell.

Crab Mallet
The wooden crab mallet is a recent addition to our family of products. My wife and grandsons use our crab mallets whenever we shake and pick large numbers of crabs. Using a crab mallet in conjunction with shaking crab will cut your crab picking time to minutes rather than hours.

The wooden crab mallet can be used to humanely kill crabs by turning the crab over onto it's back and striking the crab at the point of its abdominal flap before backing, cleaning and cooking the crabs.

Killing and backing the crabs prior to cooking them offers the crabber several advantages: it reduces occurance of accidents when adding live crabs to a pot of boiling water, eliminates contact with the crab butter and internal organs thereby reducing exposure to marine toxins, exposes the crab meat to the flavor of spices added to the boiling water such as those found in Crab Boil and is a real time saver when cooking large numbers of crabs.

Click HERE to see the product information for our Crab Max crab mallet.

Crab Gage

The Oregon, Washington and California crab gage is a new item to our product line. Click HERE to see the product information for our Crab Max crab catchers, crab mallet and crab gage for $2.50 plus $2.30 for shipping and handling charge. Order a half a dozen crab gages to reduce the cost of shipping and handling. The shipping and handling cost applies to the first crab gage ordered.

CRAB WATCH

Clam Watch has started a Discussion Forum to broaden the scope of our service to clam diggers and crabbers. The discussion forum will add a new dimension to the ability of clam diggers to relate their experiences to one another.

Discover the adventure of visiting the Oregon Coast with Oregon's Mile by Mile visitor's guide designed for the use of recreational enthusiasts who enjoy digging clams, crabbing and fishing. We encourge you participate by sharing your clam digging, crabbing and fishing experiences with us at crabbinginfo@yahoo.com. Thanks Bill

RELATED LINKS OF INTEREST FOR CRABBERS

Click on the following links for additional information about taking crabs in the Pacific Northwest. Click on ODFW's website crab page or click HERE to view Washington States information on recreational crabbing or click HERE to view California's information on recreational crabbing. Click HERE to view Alaska's comments on Dungeness Crabs. Click HERE to view Dungeness Crabs at Netarts Bay. PDF file Species Profile for Dungeness crabs. PDF file Species Profile for Brown Rock Crab, Red Rock Crab, and Yellow Crabs. Click HERE to view a video of cleaning Dungeness crabs. NOAA Tide Tables for you area.

Even though it seldom occurs marine toxins can develop in crabs. Be sure crab safe. Always call the shellfish Hotline at (503) 986-4728 or 1-800-448-2474 toll free outside of Oregon before harvesting clams or mussels for messages listing the areas closed to harvesting shellfish due to high levels of marine toxins.

The information displayed on the ODA Shellfish Hotline Website or the ODFW Recreational Report websites may or may not be up to date and the information posted there may not be accurate and CANNOT be trusted. Never rely on the shellfish warning printed in newspapers. Always call the Shellfish Hotline for up to date and accurate shellfish warnings.

Oregon's Crabs

Learn how to take crabs from Oregon's Coastal Waters. The book is a must read for those new to crabbing!!! Oregon's Crabs is the complete color guide to taking Dungeness and red rock crabs on the Oregon' Coast. The 80 page book, Oregon's Crabs, describes the cyclical movement of crabs from our bays, identifies the most productive baits and the most innovative and productive methods used to take crabs from Oregon's Coastal waters using crab pots, crab rings, crab snares and the most effective Crab Max folding crab trap.

The six Dungeness crabs and one red rock crab in the cover photo were taken from the crabbing dock at the Embarcadero Resort in Yaquina Bay.

The Book includes:

  • All the information necessary to take Dungeness and red rock crabs from Oregon's Coastal Waters.
  • Evaluates the methods used to take Dungeness and red rock crabs.
  • Updated maps of Oregon's Bays that disclose the areas of Oregon's Bays where crabs are commonly caught.
  • Describes the methods used to humanly kill Dungeness and red rock crabs.
  • Describes How to Shake Crabs. Recover a higher percentage of crab meat using the method professional crab shakers use.
  • Family recipes that your family will love. Our recipes emphasize using cooking methods that enhance the naturally sweet flavor of crab meat to its full potential.
  • This year's new original recipe for Oregon's Crab Tacos is worth the price of the book.
  • Personalize your copy of Oregon's Clams with an autograph by the author by entering your name or the name of the person you are giving the book to in the appropriate box on the payment page.

Eighty five year old crabber, Stan wrote, "Thanks for a great book, Bill…..It answers all my questions and much more.  I'll be using box traps off my boat in Winchester Bay for a while.  Thanks, again, Stan"

Derek from Eugene writes, "Hey William, I wanted to just thank you for the new "crab max" traps that we received. We love them and they work great. Also the book "Oregon Crabs" is filled with helpful information. Thanks again Derek in Eugene"

The color edition of the 80 page book, Oregon's Crabs, describes the cyclical movement of crabs from our bays, identifies the most productive baits and the most innovative and productive methods used to take crabs from Oregon's Coastal waters using crab pots, crab rings, crab snares and the most effective Crab Max folding crab trap. The book describes innovative methods to humanly clean and cook crabs. My family looks forward to preparing the recipes in the book each time we go crabbing especially when the catch includes Oregon's native red rock crabs.

Click HERE to order information to purchase Oregon's Crabs for $15.00 plus $3.40 for shipping and handling.

Link to ODFW Shellfish Regulations, and the link to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's OHV for ATV Enthusiast.

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