Yes, the days are getting shorter and the appearance of rain is beginning to increase.  Yet, to many locals, autumn is the best time to be at the Oregon coast.  It might be the frequency of still-warm sunny days, the reduced tourist traffic or perhaps the approaching salmon runs. But for some of us, it’s the first of the four months ending with the letter “R.”  To those locals in the know, that means the welcome return of Dungeness crab - the really good ones.


Sure, recreational crabbing is possible year-round in Tillamook County.  However, during the summer, the male crabs are in the process of molting and their shells are not quite full-to-the-rim with meat.   Beginning in September, and continuing for the next 3 months ending in “R,” the crab fill out and the “keepers” increase in size, weight and deliciousness. 

There are many options for those hoping to catch a few of these delectable treats.  Tillamook County is home to four large bays – Nestucca, Netarts, Tillamook and Nehalem - and Dungeness crab can be found in each of them.  Crabbing in the bays is more accessible and much safer than venturing out into the ocean in pursuit of your catch.  Boat rentals with crabbing gear and bait, are available in three of our four bays.  Nestucca Bay is the least accessible and most hazardous to reach due to a shifting, shallow channel and there are no rental boat options available.



Shellfish licenses from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) are required for those 12 years and older who wish to harvest Dungeness crab.  The daily catch limit is 12 male Dungeness crab that measure 5 ¾ inches across their back. Licenses are available at each of the boat rental businesses listed below, online and through the ODFW app for your smart phone. 

Opinions vary on the best times to set your traps or work your rings.  But most agree that during the slack or ebb tide - that time between high and low tide when the water movement is slowed or stopped – its much easier to run your gear and run the boat.  The slower current also allows the crab to easily investigate your bait and enter the traps.


Check out for more information about crabbing techniques and to purchase a shellfish license.   Check out the following links for Tillamook County businesses that offer boat rentals for crabbing.

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