Looking for the best spots to go crabbing at the Oregon coast? You’ve come to the right place.
I’m a lifelong Oregonian that has spent her fair share of time at the coast. One of my favorite things to do at the coast is to go crabbing. Oregon is home to a healthy population of Dungeness crab that are ripe from the picking (if you know where to look).
I’m not one for small talk, so allow me to share the best spots for crabbing at the Oregon coast. Let’s jump in!
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Crabbing at the Oregon Coast (Helpful Tips)
Best time to go crabbing at the Oregon coast
The general rule of thumb is that the best time to go crabbing at the Oregon coast is during months that end with “r.”
With that said, September through November tends to be the best time for crabbing at the Oregon coast. But based on personal experience, I tend to prefer crabbing in September because that’s when the crabs are at their fattest.
Also, as a local, I hardly crab past November because the weather gets miserable in the winter. But to each their own!
NOTE: The Oregon coast is CLOSED to crabbing from October 16, 2022 – November 30, 2022.
Know the importance of high tide and low tide
Knowing about the importance of tides will greatly improve your success of catching crabs at the Oregon coast. The best time to go crabbing is two hours before the “slack tide” after high tide.
Slack tide is when the tide shifts from outgoing to ingoing or vice versa. The reason? The lack of current makes it easier for crabs to mosey about foraging for food. Crabs move between bays and the ocean and since they prefer calmer waters, you’re more likely to find them during peak low or high tide.
Here’s the handy tide chart I use whenever I go crabbing at the Oregon coast.
There’s two popular methods for crabbing at the Oregon coast
Option I: Rent a boat from a marina
Arguably the best way to succeed while crabbing at the Oregon coast is by renting a boat from a marina. Boat rentals typically come with all the gear you’ll need, plus helpful instructions for knowledgeable staff. There’s a ton of marinas along the coast, but I’ll highlight the best ones below.
Option II: Crab from the dock
The second best option is to go crabbing from a public dock. I’ve done this plenty of times and have had mixed results (mostly good catches though!). You’ll need to bring your own gear or rent from a nearby marina.
I’ve had success using both methods but renting a boat is a lot more fun, especially if you’re crabbing at the Oregon coast with friends in tow.
Local’s Tip: If it’s your first time crabbing at the Oregon coast then I suggest opting for a boat rental. The folks at the marina can give you helpful tips and provide maps that tell you where your highest chance of success will be.
Essential gear for crabbing at the Oregon coast
- Crab rings or cages (and rope): Most local bait-and-tackle shops rent crab rings and cages. Since we’re avid crabbers, we’ve purchased a handful of crab rings over the past few years, here’s the best we found. But fret not, if it’s your first time crabbing at the Oregon coast, I suggest renting gear rather than purchasing.
- Crab measuring tool (non-negotiable): In Oregon it is illegal to keep any male crab smaller than 5 3/4 inches across the back shell (not including the spikes). You’ll be subject to a gnarly penalty if you don’t abide by the rules, so make sure to purchase this handy crab measure before heading out.
- Gloves: You’ll need gloves for pulling your crab ring up and for checking the sex of the crab. These are the gloves I highly recommend.
- Cooler: If it’s your first time crabbing at the Oregon coast then you may not know to bring a cooler, so let me help you out. Grab ice at a convenience store before you start crabbing so that you have somewhere to store your catch. If helpful, here’s the exact cooler I use. It’s cheap and easy to bleach.
- Best crab bait = raw chicken: If you’re going crabbing at the Oregon Coast off a dock, swing by Safeway or Grocery Outlet (or any grocery store, really) to pick up some raw chicken to use as bait. If you’re renting a boat then you can purchase cheap bait directly from the marina (typically frozen fish heads).
- Bucket: You’ll need to store your catch before cooking/storing in the cooler. Any large bucket should do, I use the handy one from Home Depot. Nothing fancy needed, just something that will hold your crabs.
Check for current health advisories
Learn from my mistake — I once ate oysters at the Oregon coast only to catch a terrible stomach bug. A day later the Oregon Department of Agriculture released a health advisory discouraging the consumption of oysters because of elevated levels of biotoxins.
Alas, I never go crabbing at the Oregon coast without checking on current health advisories and closures first.
Rules for Oregon Coast Crabbing
Get an Oregon Shellfish License
Acquiring a license to go crabbing at the Oregon Coast is non-negotiable and thankfully easy. The fee is $10 for Oregon residents and $28 for non-residents. If helpful, you can buy your crabbing license buy clicking here.
If you’re the last minute sort, fret not. You can pick up a license are most hardware and sporting goods stores along the coast.
You cannot keep female crabs
Female crabs lay the eggs (up to 2.5million eggs at a time, imagine!) and are therefore treated like the queens they are. As such, it’s illegal to keep female Dungeness crabs.
You get tell a female crab from a male by flipping them over and seeing the shape of the stomach. Female crabs have an oval shaped stomach while made crabs have triangular stomachs. The photos below may be helpful.
The daily limit for Dungeness crabs at the Oregon coast is 12 males
Oregon is all about sustainability and keeping crab populations thriving. As such, there’s a daily limit of 12 crab per person. Don’t take more than your daily limit otherwise you will be subject to a steep penalty.
Best Spots to Go Crabbing at the Oregon Coast
Garibaldi Marina in Nehalem Bay
Garibaldi Marina is a full service marina offering an array of services, most notably their crabbing setups. This is actually the first spot my husband and I went crabbing at the Oregon coast, so it has a special place in our hearts. We invited a group of friends to join us and embarked on an afternoon of crabbing that yielded daily limits for all on board.
Boat rentals are done by reservation only, which are accepted 7-10 days in advance. Safety equipment is provided onboard, and the helpful staff hand out maps of the bay to guide you on the best spots to drop your cages.
You can also rent crab rings from the marina (which we always do). Just make sure to check them every 10-15 minutes since they seem to fill up quicker than crab pots. The staff will also cook the crab onsite, which makes transporting crab home a breeze.
Wheeler Marina in Wheeler, Oregon
Located in the charming town of Wheeler, the Wheeler Marina is perfectly situated where the bay narrows and the Nehalem river begins. They have boats and rental gear available, not to mention friendly staff.
This is my husband’s favorite spot to go crabbing at the Oregon coast, he always comes home successful. He and his friend have made an annual tradition of going crabbing at the Oregon coast and this is where they return every year.
Boat rentals are reasonably priced ($75 for 3 hours, $20 each additional hour), and the crabbing opportunities are endless. Between the low prices, friendly staff and great gear, it’s no wonder why locals consider this one of the best spots for crabbing at the Oregon coast.
Kelly’s Brighton Marina at Rockaway Beach
Unlike some of the other marinas in Oregon, Kelly’s Brighton Marina at Rockaway Beach run exclusively on a first-come, first-served basis (reservations not accepted). Prices are a tad steeper ($120 for 2 hour boat rental) but both bait and 3 crab rings are included in the price. The price also includes the cooking of caught crab.
The reason I consider this one of the best spots to go crabbing at the Oregon coast is because it’s great for beginners. The folks at Kelly’s are very knowledgeable, friendly and laid back.
Local’s Tip: You can also purchase live crab, clams and oysters directly from the marina.
The Public Dock in Newport
As you may have guessed, crabbing off a pier is different than crabbing off a boat. Rather than the rocking motion of a boat, your feet will be squarely planted on the ground as you toss your cage into a tranquil bar or rolling estuary.
The public dock in Newport is definitely one of the most popular spots for crabbing at the Oregon coast. You’ll see tons of families with kids tossing cages into the chilly waters of Yaquina Bay. The best part about this public dock is the self-service cleaning station (free of charge) where you can clean your catch before storing in a cooler.
Local’s Tip: If you’re crabbing with friends, swing by Rogue Brewery for some great beers. The brewery shares a parking lot with the public pier, so swing by after (or before) you’ve had your fix.
Jetty Fishery Marina
The Jetty Fishery Marina in Nehalem Bay is yet another great option for crabbing at the Oregon coast. You can fish from the boat dock ($8 if you bring your own ring) or rent a boat (with crab traps, if needed). You’re allowed to enjoy a brew or two while you crab (they have a good selection to choose from), which is a nice treat — remember to bring a folding chair!
When you’re satisfied with your bounty, the folks at the marina are happy to cook your catch for you and put them on ice to take home. Talk about full service.
Local’s Tip: If you’re not feeling like crabbing, you can purchase crab (clams and oysters too) directly from the little shack. There’s a cozy fire pit area with ample seating where you can enjoy a beer while the kind staff prep your seafood. You can also buy snacks, drinks, etc.
The Alsea Bay in Waldport
No list of the best crabbing spots at the Oregon coast would be complete without mentioning the Alsea Bay in Waldport. This place swells with locals during the summer and fall months for all sorts of clamming and crabbing joy.
You can rent a boat at the bay and rent bait + crab rings to embark on the adventure. I prefer visiting the Dock of the Bay Boat Rental and Store. Prices are reasonable, in my opinion. A 3 hour boat rental will run you $120 (and includes 3 crab rings with bait).
You’ll also notice folks crabbing right off the pier, although in my experience the crabs near the pier tend to be on a smaller side (honestly, you probably won’t catch your limit using the pier).
The best part? The kind folks at the Dock of the Bay are happy to cook your catch for you.
The Public Pier in Garibaldi
A stone’s throw from the Garibaldi Marina, the public pier is a great option for those that want to catch crabs at the Oregon coast without a boat. This pier is popular with locals, so expect crabs during peak Oregon coast crabbing season.
Spanning 700 feet, the Garibaldi’s public pier is the longest in Oregon. The pier is open daily from dawn to dusk and there’s a parking lot near the entrance.
If you’d like to pick up some crabbing gear, head to the Garibaldi Marina for fair-priced full day rentals.
South Jetty Crab Dock in Florence
The South Jetty Crab Dock in Florence is arguably the most popular spot for crabbing at the Oregon coast. Rain or shine, it’s full of people every time I visit. But the reason is simple, this is some of the best Oregon coast crabbing to be had and locals know it.
You’ll need to bring your own gear (unless you swing by a shop beforehand) because this spot is a bit removed from the city. You’ll rub elbows with seasoned locals that will probably answer any questions you might have if it’s your first time crabbing at the Oregon coast.
Best Places to Go Crabbing at the Oregon Coast
In summary, here’s the best spots to go crabbing at the Oregon Coast:
- Garibaldi Marina in Nehalem Bay
- Wheeler Marina in Wheeler, Oregon
- Kelly’s Brighton Marina (Rockaway Beach)
- Jetty Fishery Marina
- The Public Crab Dock in Newport
- Public Pier in Garibaldi
- The Alsea Bay in Waldport
- South Jetty Crab Dock in Florence
Map of the best crabbing places at the Oregon coast
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