2021 Potomac River Crabbing Restrictions

The Potomac River crabbing season, sizes and commercial pot, harvest and time limits for the Potomac River Fisheries Commission are as follows:

Crab Season (open)


Crab Pot Season:

April 1 through November 30

Trotlines & Dip Nets:

April 1 through November 30

Peeler Traps:

May 1 through June 30 
(traps must be removed by July 1)



Hard Crabs:


Males and Immature Females:

April 1 through November 30

Mature Females: 

April 1 through November 30

Soft and Peeler Crabs:

May 1 through October 30



Crab Size Limits It shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, keep in floats, or have in possession any:

(1) hard crabs, except mature female crabs, less than 5 ¼” inches. 
(2) peeler crabs less than 3 ½ inches.
(3) sponge crabs, spawn crab, blooming female crab, mother crab or the female crab from which the egg pouch or bunion has been removed - of any size.

  Effective July 10, 2008; all hard males, hard females, peelers and soft shell crabs shall be kept separate from each other.  

River Wide Female Crab Harvest Limits for Management Year 2021-2022

Crab Pot Size:

Maximum number of bushels allowed:


12 bushels


16 bushels


20 bushels

  Commercial Pot Limits: 285, 380, and 475 

  Commercial Time Limits: It shall be unlawful for any person to take or catch crabs between sunset and one hour before sunrise, or to land or unload crabs earlier than sunrise or later than sunset. 

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission coordinates regulations with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, (DGIF) and with the other Atlantic coastal states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).