Needing an activity that can provide hours of enjoyment for everyone in the entire family? Load up the little ones and head on down to the water for a day of adventure - crabbing. I can remember when I was knee high to a grasshopper and grandpa would load us up into the old Ford Falcon and take us to Crystal Beach for a day at the beach and crabbing. Heck, just the ride across the Bolivar ferry was an adventure in itself.
The Blue Crab is a feisty little creature that provides a great deal of fun for the kids and delicious food for mom and dad. They can be found just about anywhere you can access the water, from a few inches deep to the deepest parts of the bay.
The use of bait in wire traps involves a minimal amount of effort for the recreational crabber and can be effective throughout the crabbing season, which usually begins in June and may last well into October. Better yet, an adventure to last a lifetime for the little ones; baited drop lines can be used during the summer months to entice nibbling crabs close enough so that they can scoop them up with a net. The bait, usually a chicken neck or fish head, is tied to the string and thrown into the water away from the bank. Once a tug is felt, resist the urge to yank the line. If you don't pull it in too fast, the crab will hang on to the chicken neck. Slowly retrieve the string with the crab in tow close enough to dip the crab from the water and place him into a waiting bucket.
The easiest and most productive way to setup drop lines from the beach front or any shoreline is by use of 2 broom sticks with a line stretched between them parallel to the shore. Then tie your baited drop lines to the main line. This rig allows you to run multiple drop lines and cover a larger area. When netting crabs, be sure to have the net in the water and scoop them up from behind and underneath.
The beginner should be cautious when handling a blue crab since the pinch of the powerful claws can be extremely painful. A pair of long-nosed pliers or thick gloves should be carried to aid in handling the feisty little devils. Always approach from the rear when picking up a crab. Should a crab get a hold on a finger, it is usually best not to pull it off. First, try letting it hang; many times the crab will release and drop. If the crab will not release, use the free hand to immobilize the other claw and slowly bend the offending claw backward until the crab releases it.
Harvested crabs should be placed in a bucket with ice and/or very little water and covered with a wet towel, or a piece of wet burlap. Crabs should never be put into a container of water as they will die quickly from lack of oxygen. . Crabs that are dead will spoil very rapidly, and its best to discard crabs that are dead. Crabs that have been chilled may appear dead, but will begin showing movement as they warm. If no movement is detected after warming, discard the crab.
A few parting words. First off, put the little ones in a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Second, there are regulations for recreational crabbing in the state. "I was just having fun with the kids" probably won't cut it with the warden.
Be sure and check out the "Blue Crab Archives", this is one of the best resources on the web for all the aspects of crabbing.
Look for spots to crab that are off the beaten path.
Crabs really can be found
anywhere you can access the water. A quiet little cove or marshy area will provide
better crabbing than a spot that's over run by the weekend crowds.