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Recreational Crabbing Season Opens April 1

Crabbers Can Get Cracking on State’s Signature Catch

It’s crabbing season in Maryland!

Recreational fishing for the state’s most iconic aquatic species begins April 1 in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries as well as in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries, reports the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“We are pleased to offer multiple opportunities for anglers of all ages to catch Chesapeake Bay blue crabs,” Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer said. “We wish everyone an enjoyable, safe and successful crabbing season.”

Crabbing in Maryland waters can be done a variety of ways, with or without a license depending on the equipment used, amount of crabs harvested and location.

Recreational crabbing licenses are required for anyone who uses a trotline, collapsible crab traps, net rings, seines or eel pots; or who catches more than two dozen hard crabs (with a limit of 1 bushel) or more than 1 dozen soft crabs or male peelers (with a limit of 2 dozen). Crabbers using handlines or dip nets or catching beneath those stated limits do not require a license.

An owner, lessee or tenant of a private shoreline property may use up to two crab pots – appropriately registered – without a license. Crab pots used by waterfront property owners in Maryland must be fitted with a bycatch reduction or turtle excluder device in every entry funnel, and be marked with the owner’s name and address.

A recreational crabbing license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays and their tributaries. Additionally, any passenger of a boat with a valid crabbing license doesn’t need an individual license to crab.

Please note that all recreational crabbers are prohibited from selling crabs or possessing an egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female hard or peeler crab.

The department’s website contains information on who needs a license to crab.