Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crabbing in Winchester Bay, Oregon

Morning mist burns off (the view from our window). Each September, if we are anywhere near the Oregon coast, we trek on over to Winchester Bay to join the Roving Rods (many of whom are Boomers, too), a club of RV’ing fisherfolk, for their annual Crab Fest.  Our first visit was in 2003 – our first year on the road.  On our second visit, we joined the Roving Rods – even though we don’t fish or crab – so we could visit during the Crab Fest without feeling like parasites.

This is our 4th Crab Fest.  We arrived on Thursday, in brilliant sunshine and high winds, and that weather pattern has persisted.  We awake to still, silent fog.  The sun rises and burns away the fog by 9 am, and we hurry out to get our walk in before the wind kicks up by noon.  As I write this at 1:30, our slide topper awnings are flapping and squealing, and the pennants and flags I can see out the windows are snapping.

Pulling up a crab ring. Winchester Bay is a great destination for RV’ers, whether you are interested in fishing and crabbing or not.  Four levels of RV accommodations meet the needs of all levels of the RV lifestyle (though prices have gone up this year).

On the “thrifty” end (where the Roving Rods meet), you find side-by-side parking slots on asphalt with no hookups.  Clean showers and restrooms, a pay phone, a newspaper stand, a dump station and a crabbing dock are included in the rate of $11 per night.

This year, we took the next step in upward mobility, snagging a huge space on the end of a row on Pier C (click here to read our campground review and see more photos).  Three piers stick out into the bay, with RV parking facing the water.  For an extra $3/night, you get a slightly larger space, a picnic table, a grill, and a bit of grass.  Because of the way the spaces are angled, you also have a better view – and the views here are fabulous! 

One of the crab docks at Winchester Bay. The next step up is an area of county park-like RV sites with full hookups, with rates around $20/night.  Nothin’ special about ‘em, but you do have a bit more space and hookups.

Feel like the high life?  Move on up to a site at the Winchester Bay RV Resort, one of the most beautiful RV parks we’ve seen, on a little peninsula sticking out into the bay.  Lots of manicured grass, extra large sites situated to take advantage of the views, full hookups, patios… the royal treatment, for $36/night. 

Maybe we’ll do that one day, but for now, we incorporate it into our daily walk – yes, that’s right, even those of us cheapskates from the “wrong side of the bay” can walk the sidewalk that runs along the edge of resort’s peninsula, steps from the rigs arrayed to take in the views.   Sweet.  :)

This one is a keeper.After we snoop our way along the resort walkway, we head out to the long crabbing pier to check out the action (alas, not much this year).  This is what it is all about for the Roving Rods.  They come equipped with crab pots, traps and rings; with freezers stuffed full of chicken necks, backs and wings (for bait); and with all the necessities for measuring, handling, and securing the crabs – plus a $17 license.

You can handle the traps in two ways: toss them in from a crabbing dock (easy, but limiting), or take them out in a boat to your own special, super-secret crab hole.  Usually, dropping your traps from a boat – with more choice of placement – yields superior results, but beware: a crabber went out of the bay into the ocean a few days ago and set his traps.  Since then, a small-craft advisory and the conditions beyond the mouth of the bay have kept him from getting back out to his traps – no doubt crowded with crabs!  :)

Dan gets ready to catch more keepers!So far this year, the Roving Rods aren’t having much luck; plenty of crabs are trapped, but most are too small to keep.  Dan had a keeper yesterday, and we saw him pull in another one this morning (photo above).  Looks like Dan and Jenny are among the few dining on crab this year.

One last story from Winchester Bay: in 2003, when we began full timing, we met a couple at the SKP park in Pecos, Texas, who were full timing in a small Casita trailer. WOW!  They planned to sell the Casita in a few months and head to New Zealand for extended travel, then return to the US and purchase a different (larger) rig.  We’ve thought about them several times a year, usually whenever we see a Casita, and wondered if they were still full time RV’ers, and in what rig. 

The line up on the C pier, with Scoopy on the far left.Sitting around at happy hour yesterday, the woman next to Odel began asking him questions, finally his name.  When he said “Odel”, she said “I owe you a quarter!”.  It was Linda, with her husband Mike, the full timers from the Pecos park.  Odel had loaned them a quarter at the ice cream social to buy ice cream – and they paid it back with 6 cents interest.  Ha, ha!  They now have a Lazy Daze, and split their time between the US and New Zealand – as Mike said, “We’ve had 11 summers in the last five and a half years.”  It was great to see them again, and so totally unexpected.  Mike and Linda, we wish you the best!


  1. Great to read about the gathering. Too bad the crabs aren't abundant.

    We were there a week or so before the "official" event and enjoyed our two-night stay. Sorry we missed you.

    George and Jaimie Bruzenak

  2. I enjoyed reading your comments about Winchester Bay. It was a favorite when my four children were small. This is back when there were many charter fishing boats. My husband enjoyed watching the catch and the young boys that cleaned the large fish..No matter where we traveled my four kids always asked did we have time to finish at Winchester Bay?
    Years ago it was a treat to be part of the formation of the Get together on the parking area. We had a fantastic POTLUCK. Anyone was welcome. A oriental couple in a large motor home contributed awesome items for the potluck.
    I became a widow - not a full timer but roamed a lot with my travel trailer and Charger the Schnauzer. No longer active with Escapee SKPS.
    I've sold my travel trailer - my son and I do Amtrak First Class train trips. January we are taking a cruise to the Panama Canal.
    Dorothy Smetana Keizer, Or.