Wheeler on the Bay Lodge

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Wheeler on The Bay Lodge, Wheeler, OR

4.8 • 204 Reviews

Kayaking, Fishing & Crabbing

Wheeler on the Bay


To make your stay even more fun, we offer free kayaks when you stay two or more nights. Nehalem Bay offers some of the calmest water on the coast. In the morning, the bay is often as smooth as glass, making it the perfect opportunity for kids and novice paddlers to get out and enjoy nature.

Life jackets and instruction are provided, along with assistance in launching. We have single, and tandem kayaks; both are very stable and simple to operate. It’s a wonderful way to explore the bay and discover the wildlife of the area. Frequent sightings include seals, blue herons, egrets, eagles, river otters, cormorants, ducks, kingfishers, Roosevelt elk and more depending on the season.

Tour wetland areas and spend hours and hours out on the water.  You can paddle up to the next town of Nehalem and hop out for a fantastic bowl of various fish chowders and homemade ice cream at The Buttercup, or wander around Nehalem antique stores.

 There are plenty of kayaks; you don’t have to reserve them.


Wheeler on the Bay Fishing

Fishing and Dock Your Boat

Nehalem Bay is Oregon’s fourth largest bay and is a favorite among fisherfolk because of its proximity to Portland.

Bring your own boat and moor it on our dock ($10 per night). Or reserve a crab/motorboat next door at Wheeler Marina http://wheelermarina.com/. They sell fishing/crabbing licenses and tackle and also have a crab cooker.

  • This bay is known for summer and fall runs of Chinook salmon.

The season begins in early July and continues into November.

  • Coho Salmon appear August through October.
  • Steelhead are present November to April, with February and March being the best time.
  • Cutthroat Trout are year-round, with the best time being mid-July through mid-September.
  • Crabbing is year-round, and September through December will be the meatiest.

You’ll also find Steelhead trout, Sturgeon, and excellent crabbing.

Cleaning, storing, and cooking your catch:

There is a cleaning station on the dock.

Bring your own outdoor crab boiler, and cook your own crabs on the dock or the patio. Please, no bait, fish, or crab in your room’s refrigerator; we have freezer space for your catch. Bring a cooler to store anything that you don’t wish to store in our freezer. Ice is available at the liquor store, only two blocks away.


Wheeler on the Bay Crabbing


Nehalem Bay is excellent for crabbing throughout the year. It is easy to do! We can give you instructions and tips. Just ask. Traps and boat rentals along with bait and your shellfish license can be found next door at Wheeler Marina


A shellfish license is necessary for anyone 12 years or older. You can buy a license next door at Wheeler Marina. The duration of a short-term license is three days, or you can buy one for the year. There is a limit of 12 Dungeness crabs per person, per day and only the males are allowed to be kept. The minimum size permitted to be kept is 5 ¾ inches. Size is measured in a straight line across the back (caliper measurement) immediately in front of, but not including the points. Undersize and female Dungeness crabs and unwanted crabs must be immediately released unharmed.

It is true that after heavy rainfall the resulting increase in fresh water, crab tend to be less abundant in the bays. Slack water (the time around high or low tide) is the best time to crab in the bays. During slack water, crab is generally walking around and foraging, since they are not getting pushed around by tidal exchange. On days when there is little difference between high and low tides, crabbing can go on almost all day long, so it’s better to crab away from the full moon.

Bait ~ Many different types of bait are used: turkey, chicken, clams, fish carcass, shad, herring, etc.

The meatiest crabs are found September through February. You can quickly tell a male from a female by the width of the abdominal flap. The males have a narrow flap, while the female’s flaps are wider and bell-shaped. Use either crab pots or rings to catch crab. When using rings, pull them up after 15 to 20 minutes. Crab pots should be allowed to soak for at least an hour. Be extra cautious when reaching into a pot or ring full of crab. A pinch from a crab can be very painful.

Releasing soft shell crab is strongly recommended. Soft shell crab are newly molted. The volume of meat is low, and the quality is usually stringy and less palatable.
Be sure to carefully and quickly release unwanted crab. Do not throw them from heights, as this will crack their carapace and kill them. It is illegal to retain only the claws of any species.


Bring your own outdoor crab boiler, and cook your own crabs on the dock or the patio. Please, no bait, fish, or crab in your room’s refrigerator; we have freezer space for your catch. Bring a cooler to store anything that you don’t wish to store in our freezer. Ice is available at the liquor store, only two blocks away.

Cooking method

  • Grab each crab carefully from the rear-end, between their legs, and put in a pot together to make sure they all fit, with 3-4 inches of space below pot rim. Remove crabs and fill your pot with enough water to cover your crabs by 2 to 3 inches. Cover pot and bring salted water to a boil over high heat; for each gallon of water, use half a cup of salt.
  • One at a time, grab a crab from the rear and drop headfirst into the pot of boiling water; if you have too much water, ladle excess water out. The crabs should be entirely in the water with about 4 inches of water above them. Cover pan and start timing. When the water resumes boiling, reduce heat to a low/simmer. Cook 1 1/2 lb to 2 1/2 lb crabs 15 minutes, 3 lb crabs about 20 minutes.
  • Drain cooked crabs; rinse with cool water.

How to clean your cooked crab

  • Pull off the triangular flap from the belly, and throw away.
  • With crab belly down, pulling from the rear end, lift back shell off. Drain and discard liquid from the shell. If the reddish membrane doesn’t come off with the shell, pull it and any remaining pieces off and discard it. The long, spongy gills from sides of the body will also need to be removed and thrown away. With cool water rinse the body thoroughly.
  • The legs and claws are easily removed with a twisting motion. Crack the shell of each leg and claw with a wood mallet or nutcracker. Using a sharp knife, cut the body into quarters.
  • Using your fingers, a small fork, a pick, or a crab leg tip, remove the crabmeat. Pull body sections apart to dig out body meat.