The Maryland crabbing season opens April 1st! Here are the crabbing regulations through December 15, when the season ends.

maryland crabbing regulations
PropTalk staffer Lauren Mahoney with a nice crab caught on the South River.

Time of Day Restrictions:

Rivers, creeks and tributaries: April and October through Dec. 15—one half hour after sunrise to sunset. May through September—one half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Chesapeake Bay Mainstem: 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. It is illegal to set or fish crabbing gear prior to or after the time restrictions. Using properly registered crab pots on private property, dip nets or handlines is permitted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Day of the 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.

Daily Creel and Possession Limits: 

From shore, from unlicensed boat, or from waterfront crab pots.

Unlicensed individual: 2 dozen male hard crabs, 1 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination

Licensed individual: 1 bushel male hard crabs, 2 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination

Unlicensed Boat:

  • With two or more unlicensed: 4 dozen male hard crabs, 1 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination
  • With one licensee and any number of unlicensed individuals: 1 bushel male hard crabs, 2 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination
  • With two or more licensees and any number of unlicensed individuals: 2 bushels male hard crabs, 2 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination

Licensed Boat:

  • With one or more unlicensed, with one licensee, or with owner and any number of unlicensed individuals: one bushel male hard crabs, 2 dozen male peelers, soft crabs, or combination
  • With two or more licensees with any number of unlicensed individuals or with a licensee who is not the owner and any number of unlicensed individuals: 2 bushels male hard crabs, 2 dozen  male peelers, soft crabs, or combination

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

Soft crab:

  • 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 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.

Additional Crab Pot Rules:

  • 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.
  • 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

Amount of Gear Allowed

maryland crabbing regulations
Courtesy of MD DNR eregulations

For Virginia Crabbing Regulations, click here.