Ways to Catch Crabs

Food/Cooking - Types of Food
By: ListMaker    
01-Mar-2011

Introduction:Ever spent the summer on the East coast crabbing? If so, you know at least one way to catch Chesapeake blue crabs but there are at least five ways - if you stretch it. The below ways to catch crabs will have you feasting on steamed crabs in the evening.

  • 01

    Catch Blue Crabs With a String and a Chicken Neck

    Crabs are scavengers and love anything really really yucky (technical term) so the nastier the chicken necks are, the better they will be for crab bait. Just make sure to tie the string on very tightly around the chicken necks as crabs will try hard to strip the prize and take off with it which leaves you looking silly by having just a string in the water. And, no crabs....a sad day.

    Choose a light colored string for the best results as crabs seem to be able to detect common twine. Fishing line works well but you have to tie a float on it or you won't see a 'walker' (when the crab takes the bait and tries to head off with it). Slowly pull up the crab line when it starts walking and use a crab net to fish the crab out of the water when it appears within your vision. It's easiest to have two people to catch crabs with a string; the puller and the netter. Regardless of which roll you are playing, you're sure to be blamed for 'the big one that got away.' And, it's always a jumbo blue crab, usually 11" across and, interestingly, the crab will get bigger as the story is told...

  • 02

    Use a Collapsible Crab Trap

    Purchase collapsible crab traps online or at a bait store to use to catch blue crabs. Attach a chicken neck as crab bait firmly to the middle of the trap, add a line or rope to the top so you can lower or raise the lift. Here in Maryland crabs flock to the bait tied in the middle! Let the crab trap sit for at least 10 minutes before pulling up on the line quickly. The crab traps will close quickly, trapping any crabs in the mesh. Lift the crab trap up, and empty the trapped crabs a bucket. Check that the bait is secure and lower the crab trap again. You'll only catch 1 or 2 crabs at a time with this method but, stick with it, and you'll have a half a bushel of blue crabs in no time.

    A collapsible blue crab trap works best off a dock or a low bridge so that the trap falls straight down. You can throw a collapsible crab trap farther out but there's a good chance that the crab trap won't open properly. Eh, just a bit more time of crabbing and a few more Budweisers later, you'll figure it out....

  • 03

    Use a Trotline

    You'll need a small boat with a motor and the proper equipment to launch a trotline to catch blue crabs, but, this method will net your the most crabs for the shortest time spent crabbing.

    A trot line is just a long line, secured at both ends to the bottom of the river or bay, with crab bait hanging about every 4 to 5 feet. A boat goes along the trotline and pulls up the crab bait one at a time. The person holding the net dips the net below the crab, places the blue crab in a holding tank (a bushel or bucket) and waits for the next crab to appear as the boat moves along the crabbing line. This method is frequently used by commercial crabbers catching Maryland crabs on the Chesapeake Bay.

  • 04

    Use a Net

    At certain times in the moon cycle, blue crabs will appear on deck pilings and near the shore. During these times, it's as simple to catch Maryland crabs as dipping the net below the crab and lifting it to the surface. To use this method, a small float or boat is advisable for picking crabs off pilings.

    Also during certain times in the moon cycle, 'peelers' will appear near the shore, generally in protected areas. 'Peelers' are soft shelled crabs which have shed shed their old shells and are living inside a soft shell for 24 hours until the crab shell hardens. Soft shell crabs can easily be netted or even picked up by hand as their claws are soft also and they can't pinch you.

    Here in Maryland, soft shelled crabs bring a premium price as they're only available at certain times of the month. There's nothing quite like a fried soft shelled crab sandwich with a side of fries.

  • 05

    Set a Crab Pot

    One of the easiest way to catch Maryland blue crabs is to set a crab pot. A crab pot is a square mesh trap which you load up with chicken necks or bull lips. Secure the bait by simply closing the top of the crab bait trap, lower the trap to the bottom of the bay or river and let it sit. Now, letting it sit is the clue here as you don't want to mess with a crab pot by pulling it up and setting it back down. Let it sit at least 12 hours and you should have at least five or six 'keepers' (crabs which are 5" across, point to point).

    Make sure to set the female crabs free to repopulate the bay, and keep only the males which are legal size.




Final Thoughts

There's nothing quite as satisfying as pulling on a line, pulling up a collapsible crab trap, riding in the boat running a trot line, and seeing a crab or, if you're lucky, more than on crab.

See my supporting articles below for more information about catching and eating crabs. Get a crab feast going as soon as possible this summer.


Supporting Links



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