Blue Crabs—Chesapeake Bay
April 1–Dec. 15.
Time of Day
Setting gear and catching crabs is allowed during the following time periods:
Rivers, creeks and tributaries:
- April and Oct. through Dec. 15—one half hour after sunrise to sunset.
- May through Sept.—one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Chesapeake Bay mainstem:
- April and Oct. through Dec. 15—one half hour after sunrise to 5 p.m.
- May through Sept.—one half hour before sunrise to 5 p.m.
Using annually registered crab pots on private property, dip nets or handlines is permitted 24 hours a day.
Day of Week Restrictions
No recreational crabbing is allowed on Wednesdays except:
- When using crab pots from private property;
- When using handlines or dip nets;
- 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–July 14—5 inches.
- July 15–Dec. 15—5¼ inches.
Male peeler crab:
- April 1–July 14—3¼ inches.
- July 15–Dec. 15—3½ inches.
- April 1–Dec. 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 set gear.
- To fish crab gear which belongs to another person.
- To harvest crabs while SCUBA diving.
- To use gear other than the gear listed in the table below.
Additional Crab Pot Rules
- Crab pots must 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 panels of the pot.
- Crab pots must have a turtle reduction 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.
- Annual registration required.
Daily Creel/Possession Limits
Daily Creel / Possession Limit
Male Hard Crabs
Male Peelers, Soft crabs or combination
|Unlicensed Individual|| ||2 dozen||1 dozen|
|Licensed Individual|| ||1 bushel||2 dozen|
|Unlicensed BOAT||With 2 or more unlicensed||4 dozen||1 dozen|
|With 1 licensee and any number of unlicensed individuals||1 bushel||2 dozen|
|With 2 or more licensees and any number of unlicensed individuals||2 bushels||2 dozen|
|Licensed BOAT|| ||1 bushel||2 dozen|
| ||2 bushels||2 dozen|
The Amount of Gear Allowed for Unlicensed and Licensed Recreational Crabbing
Handlines and Dip Nets
Crab Pots on Private Property
|Unlimited||A maximum of 2 annually registered crab pots per property regardless of the number of owners or lessees. |
These pots must be:
|Not Allowed||Not Allowed||Not Allowed||Not Allowed|
|Unlimited|| || || || |
|*The amount of gear is per boat regardless of the number of licensees or individuals on board.|