Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Crabbing 101....How to, where to...
Crabbing 101....How to, where to...

“How do I go crab fishing?”

Blue crabs are a much sought after commodity. The price for a dozen XL male
crabs in Ocean City run upwards of $40 per dozen, so in that light, the
thought of catching one’s own crabs becomes especially appealing. Whether
the crabber catches enough crabs for dinner is questionable, but certainly
possible in the early months of summer. June and early July is usually best
in our area. August generally sees a “slow-up” with an emergence of more
crabs in September and October.

The whole entire life span of a blue crab is approximately three years.
Females tend to like water with more salinity while males prefer
low-salinity waters. Thus females are often caught in the areas closer to
the inlet in deep running water. (This is why the female crabs are always
grabbing hold of your flounder baits!) Male crabs are found in the upper
reaches of our bays and in the canals and lagoons around Ocean City.

In it’s natural environment adult blue crabs naturally feed on mollusks such
as oysters, clams, barnacles, and mussels. (That’s why they like to hang on
pilings!) They also eat grass shrimp, other crabs, and small living
organisms floating around in the water and sea plants including salt marsh
grass. (That’s why it’s good to crab next to a green marsh!) Crabs also eat
live or dead fish.

Crabs are in general “scavengers.” They will cling to just about anything
you throw in the water. To catch a crab however, you must have a piece of
bait that will stay on the “hook” long enough to bring the crab in. That’s
why chicken necks or backs are so popular to use when going “crab fishing!”
They are meaty enough to attract the crab, but bony and grisly enough so the
crab can’t tear off a piece and swim away with it!

“How can I catch crabs?”

There’s two basic ways to recreationally catch crabs. One can either use
crab hand lines or crab traps. Lines are more of a challenge, plus if you
are entertaining a group of kids, it gives them more to do. There are more
chances of losing the “big ones” so you must learn to be patient and pull in
the crab lines “slow.” Crab throw lines are the neatest little gizmos
created just for crabbing. They are a triangle of wire with a “molded in”
sinker weight wrapped with 25 feet of string. The crabber simply unravels
the amount of line he or she prefers to use. Tie it off to the wire so it
won’t continue to unravel underneath the water. Pierce a chicken neck or two
or three to the pointy end of the wire, and throw it out into the water.
Tie the other end off to the dock or pier or marsh. When you see the line
become taunt with a crab dancing on the other end of the line, pull it in
extremely slow. Do not pull the crab out of the water. Use a crab net to get
under the crab and dip it up. Dip it so if it falls off in the current, it
will drop into the net. Be careful not to hit the crab with the rim of the

“What about traps?”

If you use traps, you will less likely lose a big crab. A collapsible crab
trap is simple to use. You tie the bait into the middle of the trap, and
let it down into the water. Every 10 or 15 minutes, pull up the traps. The
sides will close around the crab.

There are all kinds of collapsible traps. The square ones are best because
they do not “foul up.” Pyramid traps are generally a big pain in the butt
because they can foul up if the internal springs are not strong enough. We
do not sell them in our tackle stores because of all the trouble they can
cause. If you do use them, tie extra sinker weight or a rock into the

Better traps have a place to put your bait, while less expensive traps need
string to tie in your bait to the bottom. (You can also use a shower curtain
wire.) If you don’t tie in the bait, the crab will simply walk away with

Other crabbing traps are called “crab rings.” These are best if you are on
vacation and don’t want to spend the money on wire traps. They cost half the
price and work very well. Crabs rings are simply that. A cloth or wire
ring that you tie the bait in the middle. Toss it out with some rope or
heavy twine. Pull it in fast every 10 or 15 minutes and the crab will stay
in the bottom until you get it to the dock. Once the crab finds itself in
the open air, it will try to scramble away, so grab it with a pair of crab
tongs, (or any type of long handled kitchen tongs.)

No matter what method you use, get the crab into a bucket, cooler, or basket
as soon as possible. The longer it sits in a net or trap, the more likely it
will tangle itself. The best way to keep your crabs is in a cooler. Put
ice in the bottom, lay wet newspapers on top of the ice, and lay them in the
cooler dark side up. Never put your crabs in a bucket of water without an
aerator. They will run out of oxygen and die. Measure your crabs to make
sure they are legal. 2008 in Maryland Coastal Bays is 5-inches tip to tip
of their shell.

Tides? Crabs feed best when the tide is moving. The higher tides generally
give you larger crabs if crabbing from the shore. If you are in a boat it
doesn’t matter that much as long as the tide is on the move. Early morning
and towards dusk will also give you better chances to catch the crabs. A
little drizzle doesn’t hurt at all. A hard wind is usually not that great.

Where are the 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.

· 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. 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 small 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

· 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 so you need to be dropped off.

· Herring Creek-Go west across the U.S. Route 50 Bridge. A few miles out
of town you will see a small bridge crossing
Herring Creek. Unfortunately, there is no public parking so you need to be
dropped 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- From Fenwick Island, follow Rt 54 to RT20 (now Zion Church
Rd) Follow up to Bayard Rd CR 384 and make a right, go a few miles to
Camp Barnes Rd and make the right. There are signs everywhere for Camp
Barnes and the Assawoman 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

· 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 01:03