April 1 to December 15.
The recreational harvest of female hard crabs or peeler crabs is not permitted.
Time of Day
- Time restrictions in rivers, creeks and tributaries are:
- April and October through Dec. 15—One half hour after sunrise to sunset.
- May through September—One half hour before sunrise to sunset.
- Time of day restrictions in Chesapeake Bay are:
- April and October through Dec. 15—One half hour after sunrise to 5:00 p.m.
- May through September – One half hour before sunrise to 5:00 p.m.
- On private property, crabbing using crab pots, dip nets and handlines is permitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- It is illegal to set, place or fish crabbing gear prior to or after the prescribed time restrictions.
Day of Week
Day of week restrictions – no recreational crabbing is allowed on Wednesdays except:
- when using crab pots from private piers;
- when using handlines or dip nets; or
- during a week when a state or federal holiday falls on a Wednesday or Thursday.
Minimum Size Limits
(measured from tip to tip of spikes)
Male Hard Crab
- April 1 to July 14 — 5 inches
- July 15 to December 15 — 5¼ inches
Male Peeler Crab
- April 1 to July 14 — 3¼ inches
- July 15 to December 15 — 3½ inches
- April 1 to December 15 — 3½ inches
It is Illegal for a Recreational Crabber:
- To sell crabs.
- To possess an egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female hard or peeler crab.
- To set or fish a trotline, collapsible trap or crab net ring within 100 feet of another individual’s trotline.
- To fish crab pots which belong to another person.
- To set a trap or ring without a buoy bearing the name of the owner unless attached to a pier, wharf or boat.
- To harvest crabs while SCUBA diving.
It is Legal for a Recreational Crabber without a License:
- To use any number of seines, dip nets, and handlines.
- To use no more than 10 or a combination of 10 collapsible crab traps and crab net rings per person.
- Regardless of the number of owners or lessees, to set a maximum of two crab pots at their property that:
- Are marked with the owner’s name and address; and
- Are set in front of the person’s property, within 100 yards of the shore; and either:
- Attached by a line to the property or a privately owned dock or pier; or
- Marked by a buoy or pole and sign; and
- Have two cull rings: one measuring at least 23⁄16 inches and one at least 25⁄16 inches, located in the exterior side panel or the top panel of the pot; and
- Have a turtle excluder device attached to each entrance or funnel in the lower chamber constructed of wire or plastic, rectangular in shape with dimensions not larger than 1¾ inches high by 4¾ inches long.
It is Legal for a Recreational Crabber with a License to Use:
- All of the gear that an unlicensed recreational crabber may use.
- Up to 1200 feet of trotline with floats of the same color, size and shape attached to each end regardless of the number of licensees on board.
- Up to 30 or a combination of 30 collapsible crab traps and crab net rings per licensee or per boat regardless of the number of licensees on board. If your traps or rings are unattended, they must be labeled with your name.
- Up to 10 eel pots for catching your own crabbing bait. Your pots must be labeled with your name and may not be set in a buoy-free channel.