Catching crab is a relatively easy and affordable way to enjoy fresh seafood. In Massachusetts, the most common species of crab are blue crab, rock crab and Jonah crab. There are many places in and near the Boston area to catch crab, but restrictions and licensing requirements can apply.
In general, the best spots to go crabbing near Boston are harbors, bays, streams and other sources of water flowing into the ocean. Crabbing can be done on board a boat, but for noncommercial purposes usually takes place off a dock, pier or the shore itself. Almost all of the Massachusetts coast, including Boston Harbor itself, is open to noncommercial crabbing. A few restrictions do apply in New Bedford Harbor and the Cape Cod Canal, both south of Boston.
Boston Harbor Islands
The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is home to a handful of small coastal island and peninsula shorelines, many of which are open to fishing and crabbing. Some tidal pool areas may be restricted because of ongoing research into marine life, but most fishing docks are open to crabbing as well. The islands can be reached by ferry or private boat, and some peninsula shorelines are accessible by car.
Boston Harbor is largely encircled by a publicly accessible Harborwalk that will, once completed, stretch along for approximately 45 miles. Along the walk are several fishing piers or docks that can be used for crabbing. Places to catch crab include Pope John Paul II Park near Dorchester, Piers Park in East Boston and Castle Island (which is not really an island) in South Boston. Castle Island boasts a fishing pier and a sandy beach.
Ideal crabbing locations can vary depending on the year and season. One resource for finding the best crabbing spots in the Boston area is to join an online crabbing group or message board such as BlueCrab.info. Additionally, there are laws in effect regarding licenses required for crabbing, limitations on number and type of crab that can be caught and some seasonal regulations. Review these laws at the Massachussetts Department of Fish & Wildlife website.