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Blue Crabs- Atlantic Ocean, Coastal Bays & Tributaries

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing


April 1 through December 31.

Harvest Restrictions

  • There are no license or registration requirements.
  • There are no time of day restrictions.
  • The taking of sponge crabs is prohibited.

Minimum Size Limits (measured from tip to tip of spikes)

  • Hard crabs—5 inches.
  • Soft crabs—3½ inches.
  • Peeler crabs
    • April 1 through July 14—3¼ inches
    • July 15 through December 31—3½ inches
  • Mature female crabs—no minimum size

Recreational Crabbing Daily Catch Limits

The daily catch limit in the waters of the Coastal Bays of the Atlantic Ocean and their tidal tributaries is:

  • One bushel per person.
  • Two bushels per boat if two or more individuals are on the boat.

It is Legal

  • To crab in the Coastal Bays of Maryland’s Atlantic Ocean and coastal tributaries using:
    • No more than 600 feet of baited trotline, with floats of the same color, size and shape attached to each end; or
    • No more than two 600-foot trotlines if two or more persons are in the boat; or
    • Dip nets and any number of handlines; or
    • No more than 10 or a combination of 10 collapsible crab traps or crab net rings per person from docks, piers, bridges, boats or shoreline; or
    • No more than 25, or a combination of 25, collapsible crab traps or crab net rings, if two or more persons are in a boat.
  • For waterfront property owners to set a maximum of two crab pots at their property, provided that:
    • Pots are marked with the owner’s name and address or DNRid; and
    • Crab pots must have 2 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 panels of the pot.
    • Pot cull rings must be closed from April 23 through May 31.
    • Crab pots must have a turtle excluder device attached to each entrance or funnel in the lower chamber constructed of wire or plastic, rectangular in shape not larger than 1¾ inches high by 4¾ inches long.


Turtle excluders are required in recreational crab pots in Maryland. These devices prevent terrapins from entering a crab pot without hindering blue crab entry. Without turtle excluders, terrapins can enter crab pots and drown. To get instructions for making your own turtle excluder, visit