This article is written in partnership with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Here in Oregon we are blessed with an abundance of succulent juicy crab just waiting to cooked and drenched in butter. The only problem? You need to catch it first! Fortunately for crab lovers, Oregon crabbing can be done year round with great success. There's very little gear required, and coastal towns often offer gear rental to those wanting to try the sport. We've rounded up the five best crabbing locations on the Oregon coast for those without a boat in order to take the guesswork out of it for you. Prepare your pots (and maybe stock up on butter)!
Tillamook Bay is massive, and with nearly 600 acres of watershed, it can be hard to know where to start. Visitors making the most of the Tillamook Bay Heritage Route know that the tiny town of Garibaldi is historical gem. Crabbers know that the famous Pier's End Coast Guard dock provides a great place to drop pots for crab! Garibaldi Boat Basin and Launch off of Highway 101 provide easy access to the water, while public piers are perfect for those without a boat. While you wait for your pots, take a tour of the various U.S. Coast Guard historical structures maintained by the Garibaldi Cultural Heritage Initiative. A hike to Tillamook Head is another great way to kill time. For a family-friendly outdoor outing, check out Kilchis Point Reserve's interpretive trails.
Crabbers in the Yaquina Bay area have several options available to them. Crabbing can be done right in Newport along the Bayfront at Bay Street Pier and also at the Abbey Street Pier. Both Dungeness and red rock crabs are found in these locations. For public pier crabbing, a tasty option is the popular pier located near the Rogue Brewery. Dungeness crab are particularly abundant here during summer and fall months, with red rock crab available the rest of the year. The end of the pier seems to offer the best luck. Boating crabbers can utilize most of Yaquina Bay to great effect, just be sure to avoid placing gear in navigation channels. The north jetty provides productive crabbing on an incoming tide, but the rough waters can be daunting for really small boats on windy days. Boaters mainly stay upriver near the gas plant. South Beach Marina provides the best boat launch, while Sawyer's Landing has a boat lift and moorage. Both South Beach Marina and the Embarcadero provide small aluminum boat rentals as well. Once your pots are in the water, head over to Nye Beach to wander the small shops, relax, and take in the beautiful scenery. Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site provides stellar views as well as additional history of the area.
Flowing past the city of Florence, the Siuslaw River offers excellent seasonal crabbing. Dungeness crab is most abundant in the summer to early winter months. Dock crabbing is best done here from the public docks along the Florence waterfront. Boaters will have the best luck west of the Highway 101 bridge. For easy water access, the Port of Siuslaw at the south end of Harbor street in Florence and just south of 1st street provides the best boat launch opportunity. A fee does apply here. To fill the hours spent waiting for your crab pots, grab your mountain bike and check out the challenging (if somewhat short) Siltcoos Lake Trail for fun technical singletrack. Hikers will enjoy the Sutton Trails accessible through Sutton Campground. Travel north of Florence to experience the beauty of Cape Perpetua.
Oregon's largest bay offers phenomenal opportunities for crabbing, and plenty of room to do it in, too. According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, "the lower bay is 'marine dominated,' meaning there is little freshwater influence, and some of Oregon's most productive shellfishing opportunities." Crabbing can be done year round here, but as with most locations, fall and winter provide the most abundance. Dock crabbing points are accessible at the numerous piers in Empire and Charleston. For boaters, crabbing is excellent particularly west of the navigational channel in lower Coos Bay. For boat launches, there are options. For a fee, you can launch at Charleston Boat Ramp in the Charleston marina. For free access, check out the Empire Boat ramp, the BLM boat ramp on the north spit, and the California Street Boat ramp located along Highway 101 in North Bend. History buffs will enjoy walking the Coos Bay boardwalk. For broad open beach, Bastendorff Beach is a must-see. With multiple parking lots right next to the beach, access is extremely easy here. Nearby Shore Acres Loop Trail provides easy level hiking and breathtaking views for those looking to stretch their legs.
Just north of the city of Bandon, some of the state's best dock crabbing can be found on the Coquille River. Boat ramp docks provide easy access for both Dungeness crab and red rock crab. Dungeness crabbing is particularly good in the summer to early winter months, though crabbing can be done year round. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, "Crabbing here tends to be hot and cold, so recent reports are valuable!" For crabbing by boat, west of the Highway 101 bridge is seasonally excellent. Just remember to be wary of the navigational channel when setting gear. For a small fee, the Port of Bandon, near the South Jetty is the nearest boat launch access to this area. Located in the Bullards Beach State Park, the Coquille River Lighthouse is a local attraction not to be missed. Paddlers of all stripes will enjoy the peaceful waters the Coquille River can provide as well. Just be sure to check the tides before hitting the water.
If you are unsure about how to start crabbing or just need a refresher, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a "how-to" guide for both dock and boat crabbing. Knowing the regulations before you start hauling in your catch is critical. Always err on the side of caution when choosing which animals to keep. For more information, check out our comprehensive clamming and crabbing guide.
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.