How Alaskan King Crab Pots Work (Guide)

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The Alaskan king crab is one of the most sought-after foods in the world. It has a sweet, delicate flavour that makes it perfect for many dishes. Few people know where these crabs come from or how they are caught. In this article, we will talk about how Alaskan king crab pots work and why they are so important to the fishing industry!

The Alaskan king crab pot is a fisherman’s tool. It consists of a large rectangular net that holds the crabs in the trap once they are caught. The pots are weighted and anchored to the bottom of the ocean floor with rope so that they will not float away with waves and currents. 

Once an Alaskan king crab pot has been set, there is no need for any human interference – aside from knowing when it’s time to collect your catch!

What is an Alaskan king crab pot? 

An Alaskan king crab pot is a large rectangular box-shaped trap made out of steel and nylon. It consists of a nylon mesh covering the rectangular steel frame and generally weighs between 600 and 800 pounds.


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How do they work?

Commercial fishing vessels will typically carry 150+ of these traps at a time and drop them in lines, known in the industry as “strings”. 

They mark the location of each dropped pot with a buoy and then wait a couple of days on average depending on what they are fishing prior to retrieving the pots.

If the fisherman are crabbing for blue or red crab the pots are typically dropped for one to two days. If they are attempting to catch king crabs they may leave them even longer.

For non-commercial fisherman, the most common type of crab pot is the “round” or circular, which has a diameter that ranges from about two to four feet.  

This size will usually catch crabs up through king and snow (snow being smaller than kings).   The round pots are typically made out of steel mesh with an opening in one side for bait. 

They can be baited on either end by dropping your line down into its center hole where you’ll typically find a metal bar inside holding both ends open so when fish swim over them their weight closes off access back around trapping any animals within its confines until someone comes along later who then pulls all those trapped creatures free using hooks at each corner before sorting what was caught based upon species/size regulations set.

As noted above, commercial fishing vessels will utilize large rectangular traps that require the use of hydraulics to lift back out of the water. 

Interested in how to catch crabs with other methods? Read our article on how to catch a crab with a trotline

Crab pot regulations

Depending on where you are fishing there are likely regulations around the types and sizes of crabs you can catch, Often times you will need to throw back crabs that are either too small or otherwise protected by current regulations.

Violating these rules in your state or country of residence can impact your licensing status now, and affect your ability to obtain one in the future so you will want to check with your local fishing and game licensing department before dropping large pots. 


Alaskan king crab pots are traps used by commercial fisherman and non-commercial fisherman alike to catch king crab, and other types of crabs as well.

They are generally large rectangular steel boxes with a nylon mesh on commercial vessels, and can be seen in a range of shapes used for recreational purposes.

Some states may have regulations on what you can catch with a crab pot and designate specific rules as to how they are built. 

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Ryan W

Ryan is the owner of Fisherman First and manages the team of expert writers on the site. He's fished his entire life and has been to locations across North America to catch a range of fish and crustacean from crabs and prawns to minnow and trout.