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Maryland Crabbing Season Begins April 1

Full Steam Ahead for Catching State’s Favorite Crustacean 

Photo of a blue crab

“Blue on a Lid” by Joe Subolefsky

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces that the blue crab season officially opens April 1 in Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries as well as the Atlantic Ocean and coastal bays.

“The beginning of blue crab season is a Maryland tradition,” Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer said. “Crabbing is a unique and rewarding experience that offers everyone a great day on Maryland’s beautiful waters, a firsthand look at the environment of one of our iconic species, and finally an enjoyable feast that’s defined our state’s culture for generations.” 

There are a lot of different ways to catch blue crab in Maryland. Anyone joining the hunt for Callinectes sapidus – which means “savory, beautiful swimmer” — should acquaint themselves first with the state’s rules and regulations

Recreational crabbing licenses are required for anyone who uses a collapsible crab traps, eel pots, net rings, seines or trotline; 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). 

Owners, lessee or tenants of private shoreline properties can also crab without a license; they may use up to two registered crab pots, but they 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 or coastal bays. Additionally, any passenger of a boat with a valid crabbing license doesn’t need an individual license to crab.

All recreational crabbers are prohibited from selling crabs or possessing an egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female hard or peeler crab. More information is available online.