blue crabsMany people wonder when is the best time is to go crabbing. This question can be answered in a few ways but we will start with the most common, which is the time of day and high or low tide. 

The goal is to head out to your crabbing destination while the tide is starting to come in, so therefore the best tide is high tide. You don’t want to begin at high tide because that means that water has already moved in and will be reversing with low tide within the next few hours.

You want to time it so that when you arrive and deploy your traps, the tide is still making its way in.

It is of course possible to catch crabs at any time during the day, but it is far more ideal to try and time it so that you are on the water while the water is moving, which will bring a great many crabs in your direction.

When crabbing off a dock or pier, keep an eye on the water level. You will see the water line on the dock posts which indicate the highest point the tide will reach.

Read a Tide Chart for Your Body of Water

You want to be fully ready to go while the tide is still coming in, and you definitely don’t want to be baiting traps or attempting to prepare all of your crab trap pots when it has officially reached high tide for that particular day. Always give yourself the best odds, which means you will want to know the tide schedule for your particular area.

Whether you are in Texas, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey, NC, Louisiana, or BC, similar rules about tides apply.

For example, if you are going crabbing in Ocean City, New Jersey, you will want to make sure that you check the official tide schedule, which you can find here:

Ocean City NJ Tides

You will notice that every day the tide changes slightly. Over the course of any given month, high tide will be at various times during the day so if you are trying to become a journeyman crabber, it will be good to have the tide schedule in your pocket at all times! This also makes a great gift idea for crabbers.

When it comes to crabbing season, the best time for blue crabs is usually mid summer. During the winter, the water becomes very cold and the crabs end up burrowing by forcing its abdomen backwards into the bottom with quick snappy motions.

They do not hibernate but actually just lie dormant during the winter time, which is from about November until the spring time in May. During this period you will have a really hard time catching any crabs so it is best to avoid it altogether.

When the spring time ends and summer begins, crabs will be far more plentiful. However, it usually takes a few weeks for the population to really emerge and to begin catching crabs consistently, depending on where you go.

By mid summer the water temperature usually rises to the point where the crabs are much more comfortable and can go about their daily lives. The best months to catch crabs are August, September, and October.

Let’s go over the basic tips one more time to make sure that you have the best plan of action when you try to catch crabs during the next crabbing season:

  1. Always prepare your traps, pots, toolkit and bait ahead of time, so that you can arrive while the tide is coming in. This is the ideal time during any given day to catch crabs.
  2. Crabs will go dormant during the winter months, so you’ll want to wait until the late spring and early summer to find the most success.

That’s it! Make sure you stock up on crab traps and crab pots when you prepare to head out on your next mission.

Crabbing season typically starts when the water temperature rises enough for the crabs to become active again. Although the temperature is sometimes very hot, the water itself may not be ideal yet for catching crabs.

Although the warm weather and summer time activity begins around Memorial Day, some areas might not have a lot of active crabs to be caught.

June through October tends to be the best time to attempt to go crabbing, when the water has reached the right temperature.

Blue crabbing season generally runs from late spring and early summer into late fall. 2022 is expected to be a great year for catching these wonderful crustaceans!

Now is a great time to stock up on supplies and traps!


More helpful resources for crabbers:

Return to the Crabbing Zone.