Calling all fishers and crabbers.  Summer is here and so is halibut and crabbing seasons. The WDFW is opening a lot of territory this year for some of our favorite pastimes.  Perhaps, this is a result of our tough last year, where many people were cooped up. The resource numbers are up, allowing for more opportunities to get out there on water and land.

Know your Marine Area classification.  Here in the North Sound, it is 8-2.  For Marine Area info visit:  WA State Marine Areas  This does not mean you cannot fish or crab in any open area, just make sure you check before you go that it is indeed open.  Also check the toxin report, though none have been posted in the North Sound.

HALIBUT:  Additional days were added, currently including June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, 26.  There is a one fish per day and four fish annual limit, with no size restrictions.  Please record all retrieved on your catch record card:  Catch Record Card Remember that Yelloweye retention is prohibited in all Washington Marine Areas.  For more specifics on halibut see:  Halibut Regulations

CRAB:  Crabbing in our area will open very soon from July 1st through September 6th.  You may crab Thursdays through Mondays.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays are closed.  No soft-shell crabs are legal to keep.  Learn about the different crab species at: How to Identify Crab

So go fish and crab but remember to have your licenses and record cards in hand. The daily limit throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches.  Fishers may also keep six red rock crab of either sex per day in open areas, provided the crab are in hard-shell condition and measure at least 5 inches in carapace width.  Tanner is also open, smaller but tender, so grab them if you can.  Types of crabs and regulations can be found at:  Shellfish Regulations

Small kiddos?  No problem.  You can score some red rocks close to shore in the eel grass and under, dah, rocks.  Here is a guide to the crab varieties and what is legal.  All softshell crabs are off limit.  However, for a fun day, you can find helmet and kelp crabs on the shore.  Just make sure after inspecting and briefly playing with them, you return them where you found them.  Try to only have them out of the water for a couple of minutes and then put them back carefully, in the habitat where you discovered them.

Puget Sound crabbers are required to record their harvest of Dungeness crab on their catch record cards immediately after harvesting the crab regardless of size, and before re-deploying the trap. Returned crabs do not count toward your limit.

“Most crab fishers are returning their catch record cards and helping us better understand and manage this fishery. However, we are eager to work with fishers to increase reporting compliance. Otherwise, we will have a much harder time determining levels of sustainable catch, which may result in fewer fishing opportunities over time,” said Don Velasquez, of WDFW. “We need those catch record cards back whether or not any crabs were caught.”

Catch record card information is crucial to managing Dungeness crabs in Puget Sound. Completed summer catch record cards, regardless of whether any crabs are caught, are due to the Department by October 1st.   In 2019, the return rate of catch records was 51%.  Last year it was only 36%.

Many crabs are lost due to pots being placed in ferry lanes, by not being properly anchored so they are lost, or because people just do not collect them.  If these numbers continue to increase, then new restrictions on areas will be placed and enforced.  Do you part to preserve our great resources here in the Northwest.

And don’t forget your licenses for fish and shellfish!  Otherwise, that fun day could become spendy.  Those are available online at: Fish and Shellfish Licenses and at most sporting goods stores and marinas.

Have a wonderful summer playing on the beautiful Northwest coast, shorelines, and beaches.

Marcee Maylin has a degree in Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington and 30+ years media experience. She is currently the Editor of the Everett Post dedicated to providing current, relevant, and entertaining content for the local community.