Crabbing is not just a commercial business activity, it’s also a great outdoor adventure for nature-loving people. It also involves the catching and eating of these crustaceans, such as the blue claw crab.
Crabbing requires minimal gear, and you can do it on the dockside of the water! Before going on with the adventure, here are some things you need to know.
When to Go
The best time for crabbing depends on the season and sometimes the location. Smaller estuaries and those with more freshwater are good during the late summer, fall, and through early winter. In September, crabs will be of high-quality meat. You can tell this by the condition of their shell which should ideally be hard. Don’t go crabbing after heavy rainfall as they tend to be less abundant.
Peak high or low tide is the best time to crab. The worst time of the day to crab is when swift tidal changes are occurring.
What You Need
Before going, make sure you have your shellfish license, your device to measure the crab, pots or rings, cooler, bait holder, bait, and other pieces of equipment. Ensure the durability of your rings by checking the lines on them.
As for crab bait, you can try turkey, chicken, mink, fish carcass, shad, herring, clams, etc. Just make sure they’re fresh to look ore appealing to the crab.
How to Catch Crab
There is more than one way to go crabbing, and it’s not that hard to learn them. Here are some methods you can make use of.
A mountain of regulations protects blue crab populations from decline. Consult with your fish and game department about catch size and limits. The easiest way to get started is a method known as chicken-necking. Tie a chicken neck to the end of a 15-foot piece of cotton line and toss it over the side of your boat.
When the line comes taught, slowly pull it in, with a crab net at the ready. When you can just barely see the crab on the end of the line, scoop it up. Half the fun is the challenge of catching the crab before it swims away. Unlike many crab species, blues are lightning-fast. They’re also particularly grouchy and have weaponized claws, so pick up a pair of crab tongs from your local bait-and-tackle shop.
Collapsible traps are also one way to wrangle some crabs. These metal traps are square or triangle-shaped and have sides that fall open when the trap hits bottom. Tie the trap sides to a line that is buoyed at the surface. Then, pull up on the line quickly, and the sides close up, trapping crabs inside. Pull up on the line quickly, and the sides close up, trapping crabs inside.
If you have a waterfront home and a dock, you are legally entitled to one pot and a limit of 24 crabs. These are made of chicken wire with four inlets that will let crabs get to a certain bait compartment or the so-called “living room”.
A trotline is a long length of baited line that lies on the bottom with a weight, chain, and buoy on each end. After the line has soaked for a while, the crabber maneuvers in with the boat picks up one end of the line and place it over an outboard roller. The line passes over the roller as the boat slowly motors. This picks up feeding crabs, which hang on to the bait until they’re just beneath the surface. A quick scoop with a net picks off those that take the ride up.
Crabbing is very easy to learn, making it an enjoyable activity for families and friends. You don’t need a boat to do the activity, although it can make catching easier. Just make sure to abide by the regulations in your area and maintain the estuary’s orderliness!