Photo of a blue crab

“Blue on a Lid” by Joe Subolefsky

TheMaryland Department of Natural Resourcesannounces that the blue crab season officially opens April 1 in Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries as well as the Atlantic Ocean and coastal bays.

“The beginning of blue crab season is a Maryland tradition,”Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer said. “Crabbing is a unique and rewarding experience that offers everyone a great day on Maryland’s beautiful waters, a firsthand look at the environment of one of our iconic species, and finally an enjoyable feast that’s defined our state’s culture for generations.”

There are a lot of different ways to catch blue crab in Maryland. Anyone joining the hunt forCallinectes sapidus– which means “savory, beautiful swimmer” — should acquaint themselves first withthe state’s rules and regulations.

Recreational crabbinglicensesare requiredfor anyone who uses a collapsible crab traps, eel pots, net rings, seines or trotline; or who catches more than two dozen hard crabs (with a limit of 1 bushel) or more than 1 dozen soft crabs or male peelers (with a limit of 2 dozen).Crabbers using handlines, dip nets or catching beneath those stated limits do not require a license.

Owners, lessee or tenants of private shoreline properties can also crab without a license; they may use up to two registeredcrab pots, but theymust be fitted with a bycatch reduction or turtle excluder devicein every entry funnel and be marked with the owner’s name and address.

A recreational crabbing license is not required in the Atlantic Ocean or coastal bays. Additionally, any passenger of a boat with a valid crabbing license doesn’t need an individual license to crab.

All recreational crabbers are prohibited from selling crabs or possessing an egg-bearing (sponge) crab or any female hard or peeler crab. More information is availableonline.