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Crabbing...How...Where to go....

“We’re staying in Ocean City and want to take the kids crabbing. Where do I
go and how do I do it?”

It’s that time of year that crabs are showing up in the shallows of the bay.
After the first big “shed” it takes about a week for the crabs to be strong
enough to eat once again. That was almost four weeks ago, and now they are
hungry and ready to jump on your hand lines!

The most simply way to go crabbing is to buy a “ready-to-go” crab hand line
called a crab throw line.

Simply unravel the string to the desired length, tie it off with a half
hitch or other knot so it doesn’t unravel anymore. Then pierce a chicken
neck or other chicken part onto the pin. Secure the pin. It’s like a big
safety pin. Throw the line out into the water and tie it off onto a piling,
stick, or board. And wait.

When a crab comes to the bait it will try to carry the chicken away and you
will see the line tugging. Slowly pull the line towards you and position
the net beneath the crab when you see it. Be sure not to hit the crab with
the rim of the crab net. If there is a current of any kind position the net
so if the crab suddenly lets go, the current will take it into the net.
Hint: The bigger the crab the spookier the crab will be. When I feel the
weight of a really big crab I pull the line in extremely slow! If it lets
go before you net it, immediately drop the line back into the water. That
crab will stay around!

“What kind of crab net should I buy?”

A basic 4-foot vacationer’s crab net is quite inexpensive. You can buy one
for around $5. Longer ones will cost a few dollars more. All wire ones cost
around $20. You don’t need to invest in the wire net unless you plan to go
crabbing often and want to save it for several years.

A basic net has a wooden handle and green mesh. Some vacationers buy a more
expensive shrimp net with fine mesh for crabbing. This is not really a crab
net but is multi-purpose in that the kids can catch bait with it, or take it
on the beach and scoop shells with it. If you are just going crabbing, I
would stick to a regular crab net with the larger holed green mesh. The
larger holes scoop through the water faster because there is less resistance
than if you use a net with small mesh. Hint: Flip the crab into a cooler or
bucket immediately, so the crab does not tangle in the net.

“What about traps?”

Traps are good if you are really after crabs for dinner. If you are just
entertaining the kids, then lines give the kids more to do. A combination
of lines and traps can be fun. That way, the family can decide what they
like to do better! Traps are necessary is places that are too far off the
water where you cannot reach the crabs with a net.

The least expensive crab trap is called a Double Ring Crab Net.
It only costs around $3 so the vacationer can simply throw them away at the
end of the vacation if the family doesn’t want to keep them. They are simple
to use. Tie your chicken pieces in the bottom of the net with some string.
(Or buy a shower curtain hanger and hook it in the bottom of the net, or use
an old “crab throw line” and fasten the chicken in so the crab cannot carry
it away.

Tie a heavier piece of cord to the crab net. One can buy “crab trap line” at
any tackle store when you buy the crab nets. (One 48-foot piece of line
will do several traps or nets.) Lower the net straight down or toss in out a
few feet. Pull the net up quickly every 10 or 15 minutes to see if you have
a crab. The force of pulling in the net keeps the crab in the bottom. But if
you pull it up too slowly, the crab could escape!

This Double Ring Crab Net can also been purchased in wire. These cost around
$5 or $6 or so and last several years. Be sure to hose them off with fresh
water when you are done with them.

“How about wire collapsible traps?”

These are slightly more expensive. You can spend $6 to $12 a piece for them.
They last longer and most have tops so the crabs can’t escape. There are
several brands and quality of traps. Some have bait holders that make them
extremely convenient but add to the price. Some such as the FJ Neil 225-CT
Snap Trap Crab Trap come pre-assembled inside the package. All you have to
do is take it out, tie on a rope, tie in the chicken bait, and go crabbing.
Others, such as the Tackle Factory 66 Foxy-Mate Crab Trap , you have to
assemble yourself. There are several local suppliers that make a nice crab
traps all ready to go with a bait holder.

You can buy triangle type crab traps, but I don’t recommend them and I don’t
sell them in my stores. Unless you buy a good brand of spring loaded pyramid
crab traps, they foul up, tangle up, and down right lead to a frustrating
crabbing trip! (And as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say
about that!”

“What else do I need?”

Crabs can bite, and unless you are really good at picking up crabs from the
backside, I would invest in a pair of crab tongs. (Or grab any kind of long
handled tongs out of the kitchen.) You can buy metal or plastic ones. That
way, you can pick up the crabs to measure them to make sure they are
5-inches tip to tip of their shells (In the Coastal Bays of Maryland.) Be
sure to carry a measurer or mark off 5-inches on your cooler or bucket
before you go.

And then, of course, you need a container to put your crabs in. On a cool,
cloudy day, you can put them in a 5-gallon bucket with a wet rag over the
top. You can also use a bushel or peach basket with a lid if you can get
your hands on one. But if it’s a hot, sunny day, the crabs are better off
in a cooler. DO NOT EVER put crabs in a bucket of water. They will use up
the oxygen and drown! Take a cooler and put ice in the bottom. Cover the
ice with newspaper, and put the crabs on top of the newspaper, with their
bellies down on the newspaper. When you look at your crabs in the cooler you
should be looking at the dark shell. If any of your crabs get “belly up”
turn them over. Don’t let the crabs fall into the melting ice or it can
kill them.

Crabs bite best when the tide is moving. The larger crabs bite best when
the tide is higher. Low tide often produces mostly small crabs.

Public crabbing locations?


· 127TH Street and the bay-- a public pier behind the Recreational
Center. One can crab from the pier or in the saltwater pond.

· 41st Street and the bay-- a small public pier behind the Convention
Center. Vacationers can also clam here.

· Isle of Wight-- public bulkhead and pier. Cross the Route 90
Bridge at 61st Street and travel west. In the center of the bridge is an
island. At the light, make a left. There is a sign designating the “Isle
of Wight. This pier is too high for nets, so you need to use traps or tie a
pole to your crab net to make it longer. (Note: Some crabbers take a right
at the light, and park beside the side of the road, walk across the marsh,
and crab.)

· Assateague—cross the U.S. Route 50 Bridge going west. Make a left on
Route 611. Travel this road until you see the bridge going to the island.
To the left, you will see a public pier. Cost is $10 per car. This is best
on the higher tide.

· Assateague National Park—cross over the bridge going into Assateague
and take a right at the sign for the National Park. Travel down this road a
few miles and follow the signs. There are several crabbing and clamming
areas. There is a $10 fee to get into the National Park.

· South Point Public Boat Ramp-- Take a left on Rt. 611 as if you are
going to Assateague. Rather than veering left to go to Assateague, follow
the signs and go straight to South Point. There is a public boat ramp that
is excellent for crabbing.

· Ayres Creek—As you travel Route 611 towards Assateague, make a right
on Route 376. A few miles down this road, you will come to a small bridge
crossing Ayres Creek. Unfortunately, there is no public parking here
anymore, so you will have to drop the crabbers off.


· Public Landing—Going South on Rt. 113 just past Snow Hill, take a
left at the sign for Public Landing. (About 27 miles from Ocean City.) Very
nice crabbing pier.


· Camp Barnes— Directions to Camp Barnes
Take Route 1 South
Pass the following beaches in this order:
Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey
Go over a bridge which takes you over the Indian River Inlet. The Inlet will
be on your right and the Atlantic Ocean will be on your left.
Drive through an area of beach houses, as you approach the Bethany Beach
area the speed will reduce to 35 miles per hour.
Look for the intersection of Route 1 and Route 26. If you come to Fenwick
Island you've gone too far.
Make a right hand turn onto Route 26 and then an immediate left. There will
be signs for Camp Barnes all the way to camp. You will make left turns the
entire way to camp. Camp is located in the Assawoman Bay Wildlife area.

· Holt’s Landing—Going North on Rt. 1 towards Bethany Beach, take a
left on Route 26 and go west. You will go through Ocean View and
Millville.Just past Clarksville, you will see a sign for Holt’s Landing.
Follow the signs. It is part of the Delaware Seashore State Park. There is
a crabbing and fishing pier there and it is also a good area to clam. $8 per
car fee.

· Cape Henlopen Pier—Part of the Delaware Seashore State Park—One
mustuse crab traps at this location. $8 per car fee.

· Another famous crabbing place in Delaware is Love Creek Bridge. From
Rt. 1 in Rehoboth, go west on Rt. 24 (McDonalds intersection) approximately
5 miles. Also, at the end of the same road is the Oak Orchard (pay)
crabbing pier.


Need bait and tackle? Come see us at Oyster Bay Tackle, Ocean City, Maryland (410-524-3433) or Fenwick Tackle, Fenwick Island, Delaware (302-539-7766), OR Shop Online!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 01:13