When you think of crabbing, do you think of terror on the high seas and brutal, demanding physical work?
Fortunately, crabbing (for both Dungeness and Red Rock Crab) in Grays Harbor is as easy as 1-2-3, when you visit the docks at Westport and Tokeland — no boat required.
1 Grab your gear. Whether it’s a crab ring or pot (rings are lighter and easier to transport and regulations allow its use year-round), you can purchase them at many sportsman supply stores throughout Grays Harbor or even rent them from various locations in the South Beach area. You’ll also need bait (chicken is most commonly used), a bucket and a measuring device to determine if your crab are legal or to be tossed back into the water.
Grab your snacks, chairs, jackets (it can be a little cooler on the coast than inland), rubber gloves (for handling the bait) and anything else to keep you occupied while waiting for the fruit (seafood) of your labor.
2 Pick a dock to throw your traps off of. Check the rules and regulations of the docks, and be considerate of the boats in the area. Also, know the crabbing rules and regulations through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, available in print at various locations and online at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/.
3 Check your traps to see if you’ve caught dinner yet! Crab rings should be checked at about every 10 minutes or more, since the crab are free to move in and out of the trap. Pots can be left in the water until you are done for the day (and checked on as often as you wish — be sure to remove the crab each time that are not legal as they will be eating the bait).
If you manage to keep a crab or two, take them home and cook them in a pot of salted, boiling water. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/clean_prepare.html) has a few helpful hints in cooking and cleaning the crab.
From there, the crab can eaten immediately, cooled in the fridge for cracking at a later time or even frozen in the shell for future use.
One of my favorite ways to eat fresh Dungeness crab is to shell it and make a grilled crab and cheese sandwich … or use as a topping on a salad … or warmed and dipped in butter … or … maybe I just like crab. Period.