Bay Blue Crab Season Kicks Off! Here are the Rules…

No, we haven’t had much opportunity to bring out the shorts and swimsuits, yet, but there’s a promising sign warm weather is on the way: blue crab season has officially opened in the Chesapeake Bay, tributaries, and the Atlantic Ocean’s coastal bays.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced Sunday, April 1 that commercial and recreational crabbing can now get underway.

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.

Indeed, eating crabs is a summer pastime for Marylanders who live not just along the Bay, but miles and miles inland.

Maryland DNR reminds those catching the crabs to brush up on state rule and regulations by clicking here.

Recreational crabbers need a license if they want to use collapsible crab traps, eel pots, net rings, seines or trotline, or if their catch exceeds 2 dozen hard crabs or 1 dozen soft crabs or peelers. Those with a license can catch up to 1 bushel of hard crabs or up to 2 dozen soft crabs or male peelers.

If you’re fishing from your waterfront property, you may crab without a license using up to two registered crab pots. Those pots must be marked with the owner’s name and address, and must include a device to keep the wrong kind of wildlife out of the pot (turtles, for example).

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

Recreational crabbers are banned from selling crabs, or catching any egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female hard or peeler crab.

And in the Virginia portion of the Bay, recreational crabbers who stick to two or fewer crab pots have been allowed to crab since March 17.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission also offers a five-pot recreational license.  For these licenses, there is a season of June 1 to September 15. 

To read VMRC’s crab and shellfish rules, click here.

-Meg Walburn Viviano