Whether you're new to the region or a native Marylander, crabbing is an activity for everyone!

*Originally published on October 22, 2019
Updated on March 16, 2023:

Is there a more iconic emblem of Maryland than the blue crab? You see them on restaurant menus and food trucks, t-shirts, and baseball caps. But have you ever gone crabbing yourself? As one of the state's main exports, crabbing is a point of pride for Marylanders and a popular weekend activity. Here are some things to know about it before you go:

Crabbing season begins in April and ends in December. Hours are typically from dawn to dusk, though that can depend on location and the time of year.

The best time of day for guaranteeing a successful catch is about one to two hours before and after high tide. That's when the water is at its peak movement, making it easier for catching crabs.

Crabbing Registration and Licenses:

Recreational crabbers are required by state law to have a license if they plan on using supplies like trotlines, seines, collapsible traps, and eel pots. Tools like dip nets and handlines, however, do not require any license to use. Even without a license, you can still catch up to two dozen crabs in a day (can you say feast?)

Don't forget to bring a ruler! Yes, we know that sounds weird, but Maryland has strict rules regarding the size of the crabs you're allowed to catch, as well as the crab's sex (for example, it is illegal to possess female crabs in the Chesapeake, but mature female crabs in the Atlantic tributaries are fine).

Most importantly, make sure to review all state laws before you head out. Check the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for a comprehensive overview of statewide regulations.

Crabbing can be cheap! With a dip net and some bait (chicken necks are popular), you can cull a reasonable catch in an afternoon. Here are some spots worth checking out.

Crabbing Destinations in Maryland:

Sandy Point State Park

Located on the northwestern side of the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay, this park is a crabbing destination. A pier for fishing and crabbing is available by the south end of the boat launch ramps, and the fees are minimal, about $4 to $5 per person depending on the season. If you left your bait at home, don't fret -- the park's marina store can hook you up with any supplies you need.

Nan's Cove

If you're looking for a secluded area to crab, Nan's Cove is it. Bordering the Patuxent River, this tranquil little cove provides scenic beauty as well as some peace and quiet for catching the perfect crabs. No fees are required to enjoy this spot, and it's open daily to the public, though parking is prohibited between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Jonas Green Park Fishing Pier

Besides being a hot spot for blue crabs, Jonas Green Park is also known for its history. The fishing pier, once part of the old Naval Academy Bridge in Annapolis, was set aside in construction to become a free fishing pier for the entire state. You can crab to your heart's content, with no fees or license required (whatever gets us closer to those crab cakes)!

Carrs Wharf

This charming pier sits on the picturesque Rhode River in Anne Arundel County and is especially noted for crabbing. Visitors can enjoy the shaded area around the shore and take advantage of the open space. Parking is limited, so try to leave a little early to get a good spot! Click here to view their map and directions.