Crabbing Near the Mouth of the Columbia River - Chinook, Washington

After getting settled in our camping spots at Fort Stevens State Park (near Astoria, Oregon) on Friday morning, we headed across the Columbia River into Washington to go crabbing. We launched my 16' Klamath Alaskan aluminum boat at the Port of Chinook around 10:30 AM. High tide was predicted at around 11:45 AM, so we only planned to be out a couple hours during the slack tide. Katie didn't have a license, so we only took six pots with us (the regulations are three pots per license holder). It was sunny with light winds and about 50°F - a beautiful day at the coast.

Before heading out from the dock, we baited the pots and rings with one-and-a-half shad each. Shad is my preferred crab bait, especially since it means I get to have fun catching more shad in May and June each year. We motored out near one of the islands close to the mouth of the Columbia River and dropped the pots in about 18-20 feet of water. John had prior success in the same area on a past trip, so we were hoping to score some dinner.

Jason and John Baiting Crab Pots and Rings at Port of Chinook Boat Ramp     Jason and Katie Crabbing at the Mouth of The Columbia River in 16' Klamath Alaskan Boat

We decided to pull the rings up every 15 minutes or so while leaving the pots to soak longer. The first couple pulls of the rings yielded only juveniles. Finally on the third pull we got one keeper Dungeness crab (Oregon regulations are 12 male Dungenss 5-3/4 inch or larger across the back at widest point). Not awesome, but better than nothing.

Crab Pot with a Few Dungeness Crabs     Male Dungeness Crab

While letting the pots soak, we enjoyed watching a pair of Bald Eagles resting on nearby pilings. Katie was even able to snap a photo as the younger bird took flight.

Two Bald Eagles at the Mouth of the Columbia River     Bald Eagle in Flight

A couple hours after starting, the water became choppy and the current picked up. We decided to head back with only four keepers. There had been plenty of juvenile crab, but the larger males were disappointingly absent. At least we were not skunked and had fresh Dungeness crab to cook and enjoy back at camp.


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