The pursuit of Dungeness crabs along the Oregon coast is popular with locals and visitors alike. Practically every river that empties into the Pacific Ocean in Oregon has a town nestled at its mouth, and that town likely has a public fishing dock and a marina or bait shop that will provide everything needed for crabbing. The tiny village of Winchester Bay at the mouth of the Umpqua River is a fine example and a great place to try crabbing.
The commercial part of Winchester Bay is not much more than a cluster of restaurants and bait shops supporting the massive Salmon Harbor, the long arms of which provide slips for boats and hundreds of RV camping spots. Here the aspiring crabber can rent a trap or two, pick up some fish heads, sand shrimp, or chicken pieces for bait, and buy the required State of Oregon license ($9 for residents and $26 for non-residents for an annual license).
Just a short drive from the harbor is the Douglas County parking lot for the public fishing pier that juts 700 feet into the river. Almost any time of day there will be someone out on the pier tossing crab traps into the water. Many more traps will be tied up while the owners attend to other things. There is always great anticipation when a trap is pulled up: Are there any crabs? More importantly, any keepers? The crabbing pier is a great place to chat with people, and starting a conversation is easy: “Any luck yet?” Crabbing can be a very social activity with people bringing wine and snacks and sharing crabbing lore and tall tales.
Crabs are very sensitive to the tides, and the best time for crabbing is generally a couple of hours before and after high tide, when the tidal currents are weakest.
Note: There are many other towns that are popular for crabbing on the Oregon coast including Netarts, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats, Charleston, Bandon, Port Orford and Brookings.
A shellfish license is required for anyone over 12 years old. Before heading out, be sure to call the Shellfish Hotline at 1.800.448.2474 to confirm seasonal closures, or visit the State of Oregon's Shellfish Biotoxin Closure page.
Call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1.800.448.2474 for more information.
A profound concept originally envisioned by governor Oswald West, in 1967 the Oregon legislature ultimately realized his vision of making the entire Oregon Coast forever open to the public in a piece of landmark legislation titled the Oregon Beach Bill, officially making all 363 miles public land. "The People's Coast" is truly a one-of-a-kind coastline, a unique blend of mountains and rocky stacks, towering old growth forests, marine sanctuaries, tide pools and kelp forests, charming towns, historic fishing communities, world-class golfing, breweries, and simply jaw-dropping scenic beaches. We encourage you to plan your next trip at visittheoregoncoast.com or by calling (541) 574-2679.