Dungeness and Red Rock crabs, both saltwater crabs, can be found in the Puget Sound area. Both are large enough for eating, and can be caught in crab traps, nets, or by hand if you are fast enough!
In Puget Sound, Dungeness crab is most abundant north of Seattle, in the Hood Canal, and near the Pacific coast. The Dungeness crab is often found in eelgrass beds and prefers sandy or muddy shorelines. They can reach up to 10″ across.
Red Rock crab is slightly smaller than Dungeness. Where abundant, the Red Rock crab is a serious predator of oysters and hard-shell clams. It differs in appearance from the Dungeness by the presence of black on the tips of its claws and by its red body coloration. The red rock crab is most frequently found in rocky areas, hence the origin of its name.
We frequently see Red Rock crabs in Hammersley Inlet. If you kayak around the shorelines, it is possible to catch them by hand or using a small fishing net. Alternatively, you can buy beautiful (already cooked) Dungeness crabs at local stores including (our favorite) Taylor Shellfish (http://taylorshellfishfarms.com/maps/shelton.html). It is best to phone ahead to reserve your crabs as supplies can sometimes be depleted as quickly as they arrive.
There are numerous rules and regulations governing the harvest of crabs, including minimum size requirements, days of the week during which catch crabs is legal, and depending upon whether the crabs are molting. For example, crabs less than 6.25″ (6″ in the nearby Hood Canal) must be thrown back, as do all female crabs.
Get up to speed on the regulations by visiting the following link: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/.