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Maryland’s Recreational Crabbing Season Begins April 1

Traditional Opening Day for State’s Iconic Crustacean

Photo of reflection of four boys crabbing with a dip net

Photo by Christine Edwards, entry in the 2018 Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announces the recreational crabbing season in Maryland officially opens on April 1 for the Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries as well as in the Atlantic Ocean, coastal bays, and their tributaries.

Recreational crabbing in Maryland is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in discovering one of the state’s most iconic and recognizable crustaceans. Fishing for blue crab can be done in a variety of ways, with or without a license depending on the equipment and location. However, licenses are required for anyone who uses a trotline, collapsible crab traps, net rings, seines, or eel pots.

A license is not required for anyone using hand lines or dip nets. In addition, waterfront property owners, lessees, or tenants of a private shoreline property can register to crab license-free using up to two crab pots. 

To protect other aquatic species, all crab pots used by waterfront property owners in Maryland must be fitted with a bycatch reduction or turtle excluder device in every entry funnel. Pots must also be marked with the owner’s name and address or DNR identification number.  

A recreational crabbing license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean or coastal bays and their tributaries. 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 on crabbing licenses, restrictions, possession limits, and size limits is available in the 2022 Maryland Guide to Fishing and Crabbing.