Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How to Catch Crabs By Hand

How to Catch Crabs By Hand

Crabbing with a Net
Handling A Crab
Blue crabs will get quite large in the Chesapeake, especially in the fall after they have fed all
summer long on bay nutrients.
Photo Credit: Charlie Petrocci
The simplest crabbing method (in terms of equipment required) is the dip net. With a long-handled net you can wade a cove or shoreline, on foot or from a boat. When you spot a crab you dip and net it. Put your catch in a basket or cooler. This method requires greater patience and hand-eye coordination than the line methods.


Drop Lining or Chicken Neckin'
This is catching crabs by hand on a sing line (or string) with bait tied to the end of it - usually chicken necks.

    What you will need:
  • A line (ball of string) - string is easy on the hands to control and pull in - and the crabs really don't care what you use.
  • A small stick - (maybe 8-12 inches long) to tie your line to
  • Bait - raw chicken necks or raw fish heads. Most local grocery stores carry chicken parts you can use for crabbing. Some crabbers swear by bull lips. Others use salted eel. Bait shops and dockside fish markets will also sell you leftover fish heads. Crabs will pretty much eat any uncooked meat but these are what most people use.
  • A small net - to help wrangle those ornery critters
  • A cooler, a tall bucket, or a bushel basket with a lid - for your catch - Some folks keep their crabs in a live well in the water, which helps them to live longer.
  • Gloves - to wear when handling the crabs
  • A buddy - because two sets of hands are better than one - and it is always more fun and safer on the water with a friend along.
  • A ruler - or some other way to measure the size of your catch.
    What to do:
  1. When you get to your crabbing spot, tie one end of a 5-6 foot line on to your stick
  2. Tie a piece of your bait securely at the other end of your line
  3. Drop your bait into the water holding securely onto your stick.
  4. Wait for the tug of the crab eating your bait.
  5. When you feel a nibble, slowly raise the line to the surface. Go slowly and try not to scare the crab. Gently reel in your line wrapping it around your stick until the crab is hanging in the air.
  6. Either drop the crab into your bucket or use your net to grab your prey and then drop it in the bucket from the net.
  7. Crabs should not be without water or air for too long. Crabs can live in coolers with ice because the ice slows down their system. Never cook and eat a dead crab. Eat your crabs the same day that you catch them.

Crab Traps
Collapsible crab traps are used in a similar way to a drop line. They can be purchased at most bait shops or hardware stores on the Eastern Shore. Don't forget, you'll still need something to keep your catch in.
  1. Fasten your bait to the bottom of the trap.
  2. Fasten a sturdy line to the trap.
  3. Lower the trap from a dock or boat.
  4. When a crab goes in to feed, pull the string and trap the crab. Then hoist it ashore and drop into your bucket or basket.

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