Late-season crab fishing now open

Based on summer catch assessments, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will reopen five areas of the Puget Sound for late-season recreational crab fishing.

Opening Thursday, the waterways that are reopened are the Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, Seattle/Bremerton, Tacoma/Vashon and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca.

“Our goal is to give crabbers as much opportunity to fish as possible, while remaining within the catch quotas,” said Rich Childers, WDFW crab policy coordinator. “Catch assessments for the summer fishery indicate we’re right on track in most areas of Puget Sound, and the crabbers deserve a lot of credit.”

Childers added that the winter crabbing will bring in less people than in the summer because kids are back in school and work schedules become more vigorous. Due to the reduced number of fishing during the summer, which was reduced to four days a week, with the intention to have fish allocation for winter crabbing.

For the first time, catch assessments this year were based largely on direct reports of catch data by crabbers. A new approach this year, WDFW requested all 210,615 crabbers licensed to fish for crab in the Puget Sound to report their catch through Labor Day weekend, Childers said.

More than 66,000 fishers complied with some using a newly created Web site to file their catch reports. Childers added that all crabbers who submitted catch reports on time will be entered into a drawing for 10 free 2008 combination fishing licenses.

After Sept. 3, those who fish for crab in Puget Sound should use their winter catch cards to record their catch. Childers added that these winter cards are valid until Jan. 2 and the late-season catch reports are due to WDFW by Jan. 15.

“It’s important that people submit their reports, even if they didn’t catch any crab,” he added. “A report showing no crab caught is just as important in calculating the catch as one that shows lots of crab caught.”

The daily catch limit for the Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6 1/4 inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across.

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