Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Jun 11, 2008 08:50 PM

Does anyone know which crabs are in season when?

The Chowhound Team moved this post from the Los Angeles board
* * * * * * *

I know stone crab season is government controlled from Mid-October to Mid-May. It seems like soft shells appear may-ish? Dungeness? Blue? Alaskan King? Others? Does anyone know when the various crabs "drop" (to borrow a phrase from my far hipper music biz friends?)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I remember that soft shells are best in months without r in the name (really, May through September).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ali

      I may be wrong, Ali, but I think you're thinking of the old wife's tale about oysters. Back in the day before reliable refrigeration, the summer heat resulted in spoiled "ersters". Ugh! Up here in Michigan, they usually show up fresh about mid to end of May and then peter out. You can always get them frozen but the frozen ones are usually imported.

      1. re: SonyBob

        Not quite, Bob. The old wives tale about oysters actually contained some grains of truth - in the summer months, oysters were spawning, which meant they were somewhat smaller and tougher than oysters harvested in "r" months. In addition, in the warmer waters of southern oyster beds, the chance of bacteria contamination is somewhat higher than in the colder waters of the north.

        As for the crabs: some species do "moult" in the summer, which is what I think Ali was alluding to. Alas, my knowledge runs out there; couldn't tell you what species moult when.

        1. re: KevinB

          according to wiki The most popular crab-fishing months occur between October and January. The allocated time for a season continues to shrink — at one point a red crab season was only 4 days long. Each boat is given a quota based on their catch from previous years and how many crabs are available to catch. The fleet went from 251 boats down to 89. Currently the seasons last from two to four weeks

    2. Not sure if you are interested in this type of crab, but Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs are in season between St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) and Thanksgiving Day. They are not trapped during the winter, or at least they are not supposed to be. That would then signal the Chesapeake Bay oyster season.

      I have been told that soft shells are available at all times during the regular season by watermen. They simply separate the crabs that appear to be shedding their shells and place them in shallow rectangular containers filled with water until their shells are completely off, often in less than a day. Look in the back of most seafood restaurants in season, and you will see such containers filled with shedding crabs about to become the contents of yummy breaded and fried softshell crab sandwiches.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RGC1982

        Ya know, I'm sure you're right. I remember seeing those trays at some seafood market on the east coast (television). I based my comment above on my gut feeling that that process wasn't productive enough for any large scale marketing impact. My point of view is scewed because I live in the Plymouth, Michigan area where we have zip for anything approaching a fish market or monger. Thanks for the info.

        1. re: RGC1982

          You are correct about blue crabs. Here in North Carolina the crabbing season for commerical crabbers covers the Spring, Summer and early Fall months. You are also correct about soft shell crabs - you can get them from a market or a fisherman all season (a friend of mine crabs).

          Privately you can crab all year long. See link.

        2. Dungeness crab season depends both upon the state in which they are trapped and the part of some states (California, for one.) In Washington, the season begins around October 1. In parts of Northern California, the season starts on November 15, in more northern parts, the season starts on December 1. Most crabbers in California, Oregon and Washington stop gathering some time in May. I think, however, that the Alaska crabbers might have traps out all year.

          1. In New Jersey the season for the blue crab (Callinectes Sapidus {savory swimmer}) begins March 15th except in Delaware Bay and tributaries which starts Apr. 6. In either case the carbs don't begin to move around until the water temp. is 50 or above. Then you have to wait until the fatten up a bit or you will catch a mostly empty shell.