Puget Sound Crabbing Exceptional

By Mike Ainsworth

We are only a few weeks into crab season in Puget Sound and so far we’ve found a lot of full pots. We’re setting our pots on the way out of the marina before we fish and it’s been limits when we return. In fact, limits have come within the first couple of pots we’ve pulling. Putting out additional pots doesn’t seem necessary.

We are getting limits for four people in two pots, which is pretty spectacular. I’m not sure if that’s good management or due to the warmer water. This seems better than we are used to, however. By the way, we are allowed to keep five crab per person.


The Sound is full of great places to crab. West Point and Meadow Point has always been good crabbing, but this year seems to be even more exceptional. Camano Island, Hat Island, Port Susan are popular spots because people have vacation spots up there. However, if you go north near Hood Canal there’s great crabbing up there too and less pressure.

Some crabbers go shallower. Meanwhile, 80-100 feet produces best for me. I always drop in a minimum of 80 feet and a 100-foot max, partially because I’m hand pulling these in. I look for less traveled crab pot areas rather than right outside the marina where most people start. I’m also a fan of going to deeper water, which tends to produce larger crab. We’ve had a few crabs that have been eight inches across the back this season.


I personally think on an incoming tide you’re going to get those crab from the deeper water pushing up in the shallower water. Meanwhile, if I was just going crabbing I’m not going to work the tide. You can drop them on any tide and still get them. Crabs aren’t a tide-specific creature. They are always down there and looking for something that smells and tastes good, which I why I use Crab N Shrimp Fuel to create a strong scent trail.


I use SMI Square Pots, but any crab pot will do the trick. For bait, all I’m using are the salmon carcasses I’ve caught in recent days. The night before I’ll grab my frozen salmon carcasses and pour in a bottle of Crab N Shrimp Fuel. I like the overnight soak. This allows the bait to soak up that extra scent.


I like to put the bait in mesh bags vs trying to tie to the pot itself. It makes the crabs work harder for the bait. Whether it’s the combination of the SMI mesh bag and Crab a Shrimp Fuel I’m not sure, but we are getting 20-25 crabs in the pot. I think the mesh bag is making it so the bait isn’t getting eaten as fast. The bag allows the bait scent to disperse in the water longer and draw more crabs in.


Editor’s Note: Guide Mike Ainsworth operates First Light Guide Service. For more info on his Puget Sound crab and salmon combos please visit http://www.firstlightguideservice.com.