Megalope Dungeness crab

Dungeness crab in the megalope stage.

Howdy everyone! When we can get out, the ocean continues to throw rockfish and lingcod at us. The ling have been better the further south we go and the Bandon spots are seeing a better grade than here locally. This doesn’t mean we aren’t catching ling locally, because we are.

Winchester Bay Charters reports the long leader bite to be hot hot hot and on some days is doubling up on his trips. Be sure to check them out on Facebook.

Surf perch fishing remains steadily good but we aren’t seeing huge numbers coming in the bays yet. There are a few but not where it will be in a little while.

Shad fishing on the Umpqua should get hot any day now.

Crabbing in the bay is still good but much slower off the docks.

And let’s not forget halibut season opens for the 10th, 11th, and 12th of this month!

Probably the coolest thing going on in the ocean right now is the crab spawn we are seeing everywhere and this has led to some of the hottest top-water fishing you’ll ever see! In many places, massive biomasses of translucent, pelagic crab babies about the size of half a pencil eraser are floating on or near the ocean’s surface and these masses of baby crab can number in the millions.

Everything that swims in the ocean or flies above it is getting in on the biggest all you can eat crab buffet of the year! As swirling masses of rockfish agitate the surface of the ocean, cast after cast produces fish after fish with spinners, crankbaits, swimbaits, or whatever tickles your fancy. Some of the fish we have been catching are literally “stuffed to the gills” with baby crab as they cannot seem to stop their feeding frenzy and many a boat deck as of late has hundreds or thousands of these little crab to prove it.

I personally have been sticking to my seven foot medium light action pole with a spinning reel and eight pound test to slay my quarry and I promise it’s more fun than most other ocean fishing, if you like fast action. Let’s talk about these lil’ critters that are being consumed by the millions and providing us with so much fun, so we can have an idea of what’s going on out there.

Starting their lives in the winter as tiny larval called “Zoea,” the Dungeness crab is at the mercy of tides and currents, spending their early lives pelagically, suspended in the water and not venturing near bottom or shore. By the time these little fellas reach the next stage in their lives, the “megalope” stage, the spring ocean currents bring them in to nearshore areas, bays and estuaries, where they play an important part in the food chain, and pretty close to the bottom of it at that. These tiny Dungeness crab will fall prey to everything from whales to rockfish and everything in-between.

If the Dungeness crab lives past the megalope stage, and most do not, they graduate to the juvenile stage of their lives and will remain juveniles until about their second birthday ,living their day to day lives in shallow estuaries among eel grass and other structure. Often when I am out clamming I will uncover a young crab that quickly scurries away and buries himself back in the sand without wasting any time.

During this stage of life the Dungeness will molt up to six times a year to accommodate its rapid growth, slowing down to once a year after its second year of life. In its third year the Dungeness crab is an adult and will make its home anywhere from the shallow estuaries of its youth to ocean depths of up to 2000 feet. In their fourth year of life most will be of a size to be commercially harvested.

If by some miracle these critters are not eaten as juveniles by fish or we sportsmen as adults and if they manage to evade the gauntlet of commercial crabbers, they can live to a ripe old age of ten. It’s not easy being a crab.

Whether it’s topwater rockfish or upcoming halibut fishing I hope to see you out there!

Rob Gensorek is the owner of Basin Tackle ( in the Charleston Marina and can be reached by phone at 541-888-FISH, on Facebook at Basin Tackle Charleston, or email

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