Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Simple Crabbing- Where and How
Simple Crabbing- Where and How

The simple pleasures of crabbing bring the child out in everyone. So many vacationers come into our stores remembering that they used to crab when they were little and want to share it with their children. How do we do it? They ask because it’s been so many years since they have done it.

The easiest, most fun way to go crabbing with kids is to use a handful of lines, a couple packages of chicken necks and a net. Today manufacturers make crab lines called “crab throw lines.” A crab throw line is a triangle of wire with a weight molded into it. It is wrapped with 25 feet of string and works like a huge safety pin. Unwrap the line to the desired depth, run the chicken neck onto the wire and tie the line to the pier or bulkhead. Watch the point of the crab throw line. It is sharp! Always buy more than one line per child so they have plenty to do.

Now, these crab throw lines are manufactured in massive quantities and sometimes someone or some machine forgets to tie off the end of the line to the wire, so if you unravel all the line off the triangle make sure it is tied on! I unravel about 3/4 of the line and wind the line around the wire a couple of times so I don’t have the whole 25 yards of line out. Twenty-five feet of line is a lot of line if the water is not very deep.

Pierce the chicken neck on to the wire. I like to use two chicken necks on each line so there’s more bait for the crab to hold on to. I also like to change up the bait after a couple hours of crabbing. That’s why I suggest buying more than one pack of chicken necks. Toss the chicken out into the water and tie the line off to a post, nail, railing or whatever is around. You can also tie it to a handle of your cooler or bucket. If you are on the public pier, be sure to cut off all the strings and throw away any excess line before you leave. Don’t just leave them there!

Once a crab finds your chicken neck, it will try to drag it away. You will see it gently tugging on your line. Pull it up very, very slowly. This is great fun for the kids. One can pull while the other can get ready with the net! Wait until you see the crab before getting the net in the water. Once you see the crab be sure to get the net under the crab and not hit it with rim of the net. If there is current, get down current so the crab will fall into the net with the tide.

Once you catch a crab, quickly flip it into a container so it doesn’t tangle in the net. Then get a pair of crab tongs and measure the crab. It needs to be 5 inches “tip to tip” of its shell points in the Coastal Bays of Maryland. Like measuring a fish, lay the crab on top of a flat ruler. Do not curve a ruler over a crab or fish. It will give you a false reading. In the Coastal Bays of Maryland you are allowed to keep female crabs as long as they are not egg bearing. No license is required to crab in the Coastal Bays.

Even though a regular crab net is all you need for crabbing, kids sometimes prefer a finer mesh net called a shrimp net. This will work as a crab net and the kids can also scoop up jelly fish, minnows, shrimp or what-not while they are crabbing. Crabbing is for fun and sometimes it’s not all about the crabs!

While crabbing, keep the crabs in a cooler. What we do is put ice on the bottom of a cooler and lay a newspaper on top of the ice. Keeper crabs can be placed in the cooler with the dark side of their shell up. Upside down crabs can get stressed out and die. Never put crabs in a bucket of water. They will run out of oxygen and die.

You can also crab with traps. Traps can catch you more crabs but may not be quite as entertaining as lines. There’s less chance of error and less chance of the crab being lost when bringing them to the surface. There are crab rings that you can simply tie the bait to the bottom of the net and pull up quickly. The crabs will scurry away, so if you use these, be sure to have those crab tongs! Then there are collapsible crab traps with doors. Tie the bait in the middle of the trap and drop it to the bottom of the bay. Pull it up every 5 to 10 minutes. A vacationer told me the other day he used tie straps to secure his chicken necks to the bottom of the trap. That was a good idea! Of course, if you use traps, the kids need to find something else to do while waiting to pull up the traps! Sometimes a combination of traps and lines will keep everyone busy!
Crabbing from the shore is most successful during the higher tides. The water is deeper and larger crabs are around. Crab 2 to 3 hours before high tide and 2 or 3 hours after high tide for the best results. If crabbing out of a boat, find water that is 4 to 6 feet deep and anchor up.

Maryland crabbing locations from the shore

•Northside Park- 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 - cross the Route 90 Bridge at 62nd Street going west. At the traffic light in the center of the bridge, turn left. This is a public area that has good crabbing with collapsible crab traps. The railing is high here, so it is best to use traps and a crab net with an extendable handle. Some crabbers told me they simply taped two crab nets together!

•Assateague Island - from Ocean City, cross the Route 50 Bridge going west. Make a left on Route 611. Follow the signs to Assateague Island 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 Assateague Bridge 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 - from Ocean City, cross the Rt. 50 Bridge and make a left on Rt. 611. After several miles, 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.

•Public Landing - heading 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.

Delaware crabbing locations from the shore

Remember, you need a Delaware fishing license to crab in Delaware

•Holt's Landing - heading 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.

•Love Creek Bridge - Head north on Rt. 1 through Rehoboth. Make a left on Rt. 24 (McDonalds intersection). The bridge is approximately 5 miles from the intersection.

Sue Foster is an outdoor writer and co-owner of Oyster Bay Tackle in Ocean City, MD and Fenwick Tackle in Fenwick, DE.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 18:36