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Crabbing 101: Catching Your Limit Of Blue Crabs And Stone Crabs

Crabbing 101: Catching Your Limit Of Blue Crabs And Stone Crabs

Crabbing For Blue Crabs And Stone Crabs Is Something Every Family Should Try Together

Every summer my family would go to the beach, and we would try our luck at crabbing for blue crabs and stone crabs. We would always catch our limit to eat, and I still remember the memories to this day. Crabbing is a past time that the whole family can do together. Over the years we have visited almost every state on the east coast from Virginia down to Florida and have had great success with crabbing. One of the great things about crabbing is you do not need much background knowledge on how to do it, and anyone at any age can do it. Kids will especially love doing it because of all the cool creatures you will pull from the ocean. The end game will be a cooler full of crabs that will allow your family to eat like kings.

Catching Crabs: The Complete Guide

Catching Crabs In A Crab Net (Photo Credit: Capesandislands.org)

We have come up with a complete crabbing guide to help you successfully catch your limits of blue crabs and stone crabs. We will also go over in more detail exactly what you need to go crabbing. We will explain how to use crab traps and crab nets to have a successful crabbing season. By reading further, we will also explain how to handle crabs without being pinched. Follow our guide and have the ultimate time crabbing the next time you are at the beach.

Crabs To Target While Crabbing: Stone Crabs

The in's and out's of catching stone crabs

Stone Crabs Are Some Of The Best Crustaceans To Target (Photo Credit: Coastalliving.com )

My favorite type of crab is the stone crab. The stone crab is one of Florida's most famous crab and the ultimate crab to eat. The beauty of eating the stone crab is you do not need to kill the crab to eat it. You only harvest one claw and return the crab to the water to live. Over time the stone crab will regenerate the claw back to normal. When crabbing during certain times of the year, you will be lucky enough to get a few stone crabs in the net. When they are in season harvest the claws and enjoy them for dinner. You will catch the majority of stone crabs in the warm waters of Florida, but do not be surprised if you catch them in Georgia and South Carolina.

Crabs To Target While Crabbing: Atlantic Blue Crabs

Blue Crab: Easiest crab to target inshore

Targeting Blue Crabs Is Perfect For Crabbing (Photo Credit: National Wildlife)

The Atlantic blue crab is one of the easiest crabs to catch when crabbing. They live in all coastal regions from the upper Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The blue crab is known for their succulent meats that are mild and sweat making it one of the best eating crabs on the planet. A few interesting blue crab facts is they are decapods. This means they have 10 legs. They have an exoskeleton that protects them from predators. Because of this, they will shed it over time. During this shedding period, the blue crab will have a soft shell. When you eat "soft shell crab", you are essentially eating a blue crab that has molted. Blue crabs are omnivores and will eat almost anything dead or alive that is plant based or animal based. They are the ultimate scavenger and help keep the oceans clean of dead matter. With the abundance of blue crabs on the coast, catching them is pretty easy. Go crabbing with the right bait and you will catch enough for a dinner.

What Do I Need To Go Crabbing?

Crabbing License

Depending on what state you are in you need to check the laws and see what kind of license is required to harvest crabs. Chances are if you already have a fishing license in the state it should cover you for crabbing. If there is a separate license required, usually they are relatively cheap to obtain. Florida does not require a license for residents fishing and crabbing from a pier or land. Make sure you check the laws of your state before crabbing. It will save you headaches, time, and money in the long run.

Crab Trap, Crab Net, Crab Line, and Bait

Crab Net For Catching Crabs

Crab Net For Catching Crabs (Photo Credit: Take Me Fishing)

The main thing you need when crabbing is a way of catching them. There are several different methods. Crab traps, crab nets, crab ring nets, and crab lines are all sufficient means to trapping blue crabs and stone crabs. With a trap, you will need bait. We will go in more detail about the right crab baits, crab traps and crabbing techniques you should be using with your family.

Bucket or Cooler and Ice

You will need to sort of bucket or cooler to put your catch in. Many people will fill a 5-gallon buck with ocean water and place them in it to keep them alive until they are home. Personally, I like to use my Yeti cooler full of ice. Pack it with a few drinks and throw my catch in there to keep them fresh for cooking. Obviously, you can use any type of bag to hold them in. Just make sure you have something to put them in or they will be trying to escape. 

Something everyone should know. If a crab dies before you are preparing it, you must throw it out. Eating a dead crab can make you very, very sick. Once dead a toxin in the crab's body is released that spoils the meat. Always take that into consideration when you return home to prepare dinner.

Chair

Like all great fishermen, you want to relax while catching crabs. Bring a chair or bucket to sit on to kick back and wait for the crab bite.

Three Best Crabbing Techniques To Try With Your Family

 Crabbing Technique #1: Crab Trap

Crab Trap Pot

Crab Trap For Crabbing (Photo Credit: Swim Bait Zone)

One of the easiest ways of catching crabs is with a crab trap. This is the method that commercial fishermen use for catching crabs. It's an effective way with low engagement because you bait the trap and leave it to be checked later. This method can be more expensive than other crabbing techniques due to the cost of the trap. There are several styles of crab pots that are available to purchase. The crab trap styles include metal crab traps, string traps, pyramid crab traps, and box traps. When crabbing you get what you pay for. Remember the ocean is not easy on anything. If you want to use this on multiple trips then spending more money on a high-end box trap will be the way to go. String traps and pyramid traps will cost a lot less, but will only last a few trips. One thing about crab traps is they require bait. You must entice the blue crabs or stone crabs to enter the trap. By baiting them with the right bait, you will have fun catching crabs with your blue crab trap and stone crab traps. If you are frequently going crabbing get a crab trap that will get the job done time and time again and not break the bank.

Crabbing Technique #2: Crab Net

Crab Nets Are Fun To Use With The Family

Using Crab Nets Is Fun For The Whole Family (Photo Credit: Intent Offroad)

One of my favorite ways of catching crabs is with a crab ring net. These are typically used off a dock or pier. I was always fishing on my family trips, so I could catch crabs with a crab net at the same time. How a crab ring net works, is you place your crab bait in the middle of the net. You will have to attach it with rope or fishing line so the crab cannot carry it off. When you drop the net off the side of a pier of the dock, it falls to the ocean floor where it lays flat on the ground. This allows for the blue crabs to be able to walk up on it and feed. After leaving it down for a few minutes simply pull it up. The net creates a bowl that the crabs cannot escape. One reason this is always a go-to method for crabbing is that you are constantly checking the net. This will give kids something to do and keep their interest. When you bring the net up on the pier to see what you have caught, it will attract many nearby onlookers eager to see what you got. If you want a fun-filled night of crabbing to get a pier crab net and take the family out for some fun.

If you are in the shallows of the inner coastal marsh a hand net may be what you are needing. If you can walk out in the ankle-deep muddy waters of the salt marsh, you will kick up blue crabs feeding on dying plant matter. A simple scoop of the net will allow you to catch many of them. Kids have fun with this because it is always a challenge when a crab begins to run. Both crab nets are great ways for the family to go crabbing.

Crabbing Technique #3: Crabbing Line

Crabbing Line To Catch Crabs

Catching Crabs With A Crab Line (Photo Credit: Trip Advisor)

The easiest way to go crabbing that is the most cost-effective is the crabbing line. It is exactly what it sounds like, a line attached to bait that brings the crab to you to net. If you are taking the family crabbing for the first time, this may be the way to do it. It will save you money if people lose interest fast. There is a skill involved with finding the best areas to crab line. Look for deeper holes near marshes or rock structures that could hold crabs. After you have found a safe area for crabbing simply tie a string to a bait. Toss it out into the water, when you feel a pull on the line slowly begin working it in. Allow for the crab to remain holding on to the bait as you pull it in. When the crab is within catching range simply slide a net under it and you he successfully caught a crab on a crab line.

What Is The Best Crab Bait To Put In Your Crab Trap?

Chicken Is a great crab bait

Finding The Best Crab Bait For Crabbing (Photo Credit: Jim Murtagh)

Now that we have discussed the different methods used to catch crabs, I am sure your curious as to what is the best crab bait to use. Finding things that crabs will eat is relatively easy. If it's dead, stinking and rotting, then it will catch you all the blue crabs and stone crabs you can handle. Many times I will be fishing and crabbing at the same so using some of the bait or a fish that may have died from being hooked can be a great source of crab bait. Figuring out what the best crab bait is will be done pretty quickly because you will either catch crabs or catch none. If you are starting out in crabbing going to your local supermarket and get chicken. It's easy to put in a net and the crabs love it. Do not shy away from using chicken parts like the livers, necks, and backs. It can be a challenge to keep them in the net but they work great. The other best crab bait, in my opinion, is mullet or menhaden. The smell and oils it gives off in the water will bring in crabs from everywhere. Try different baits in your pot and see what works best in the waters you are crabbing.

Crabbing with the whole family is something that is fun and educational. Exposing your children to wildlife is something they will never forget. Catching your limits in blue crabs and stone crabs will make for a great dinner. The ability to go crabbing is a fun beach trip that can be done from a boat, land or pier. Not only do you get great action, but you will fill a cooler full of crabs. By following our complete crabbing 101 guide you should find success with catching crabs. If you have any questions or comments, we want to hear them and answer them. Feel free to leave us a comment below or email us at info@hfdepot.com. Send us your best blue crabs or stone crabs pictures to be featured on all of our social media pages. Maybe you have a tip that we have not mentioned we would love to hear it and share with our readers. Get out there crabbing and catch a limit of stone crabs and blue crabs today!

 

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