All In A Day's Drive

Prime time for prize-winning crabs on the Oregon Coast

Prime time for prize-winning crabs on the Oregon Coast »Play Video
The 2009 Legislature designated the Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister) ´╗┐as the official state crustacean. The action followed petitioning by the 4th grade class of Sunset Primary School in West Linn. Common to the Pacific coastline from the Alaskan Aleutian Islands to Santa Cruz, California, Dungeness Crab is considered the most commercially important crab in the Pacific Northwest.

Watch All in a Day's Drive Wednesdays at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on KMTR NewsSource16

WINCHESTER BAY, Ore. — Fall is prime season for catching Dungeness crab on the Oregon coast.

As beachcombers search for treasure in the sand, the crab dock at Winchester Bay is drawing a few curious onlookers. And not just the seagulls and harbor seals.

“When somebody starts pulling and getting one, well you got everybody coming and looking. It's fun. You meet a lot of different people from a lot of different states,” crab fisherman Ed Bertuccelli said.

Ed Bertuccelli and his wife once again traveled from Lake Havasu City, Arizona to Reedsport to bait a few traps, hoping for a limit. And they now have even more incentive to check the pots, because somewhere in this bay, prize-winning crustaceans are roaming the sand. 

“That'd be a very small needle, big haystack,” Ed’s wife Peggy joked.

Known as the crab bounty hunt, Winchester Bay businesses say among these hundreds of catch and release shellfish, there are a few keepers that carry a big pay day.

“This just sort of adds something to September. It's a little bit slower month, but as you can see, the weather's still really fabulous out here,” bounty hunt organizer Liz Adamo said.

There are around 100 crabs that were numbered, tagged and released into Winchester Bay. If you find a crab with a numbered tag, it could be worth one thousand dollars.

“The main deal is to try to get one for size now, but if you see a tag on it, boy! Then you know you have something!” Bertuccelli said.

“It's kind of exciting when you see someone come in with one of those tags. They're pretty wound up,” Adamo said.

Ed's wife Peggy says she knows the odds are slim that she'll find a dungie with a gold tag, but she's willing to keep trying.

“It's always been a lot of fun and a lot of camaraderie. And so what if you don't get anything,” Peggy said.

“The worst that could happen is you might get dinner,” Adamo said.

A seafood dinner that could pay for itself several times over. And you can find it all in a day's drive. The crab bounty hunt closes at 2 p.m. on September 30. The winning number will be drawn at 3 p.m. that day at Sportsmen's Cannery.