Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips “The kids want to do something besides fish!”
“The kids want to do something besides fish!”

“The kids want to do something besides fish!”

Sometimes young kids get bored with fishing, but they sure like to crab! Crabbing is easy, not expensive and requires no license in Ocean City. Kids are easily pleased by dipping the crabs or watching them crawl out of the crab traps. Walking the piers with a shrimp net offers all kinds of opportunities like scooping up and examining jelly fish or catching minnows or shiners.

“How do we crab?”

The family can do it either of two ways. They can buy a long handled crab net (or shrimp net) and several crab lines or they can buy collapsible crab traps. If you have a group of kids, it’s probably best to do a little of both. Using lines gives the family more to do and keeps the little ones occupied, but you need to be fast with the crab net or you will lose some crabs. Traps are the more productive way to go. It’s all a matter of why you are crabbing. Is it just for fun or are you after dinner?

If you decide to hand line for crabs you can buy a ball of string and a handful of 1 to 2 ounce sinkers and make your own lines. Or you can buy a crab throw line which is made out of a triangle of wire, 25 feet of string and a sinker molded into the wire. What you do is unravel the line off the crab throw line to the desired length, and half hitch the string around the triangle. Pierce a chicken neck or two onto the wire triangle and secure it like a big safety pin. Toss it into the water off the pier or dock and tie it to a piling, board, nail or right to your cooler. You will know if you get a crab on your line because it will start tugging and the line will become taut. Ever so slowly, pull in the line. When you see the crab come towards the surface, be careful not to pull it out of the water. Position the net below the crab without touching it with the rim of the net. This will spook the crab and it will drop off. If there is any kind of current, position the net “down current” so if the crab lets go, it will go into the net. Scoop up the crab and quickly flip it into a bucket or cooler so you can measure it. The longer you keep a crab in a net, the more likely it will become tangled!

Crabs in the Coastal Bays need to be 5-inches tip to tip of their shells. Crabbers in the Coastal Bays can keep females as long as they are mature and are not egg-bearing. If you are seriously crabbing, it’s a good idea to have a pair of crab tongs to pick up the crabs. They can pinch! Any pair of kitchen tongs will also work.

If you are keeping your legal crabs, the best thing to do is get a cooler and put ice in the bottom. Then put some newspapers on top of the ice. Lay the crabs with their shell side up on top of the newspaper. If a crab lies upside down, it will likely die. If crabs get too hot just sitting in a bucket, they will also die if their shells get dried out. But, if you put them in water, when the oxygen runs out and the water gets too hot, they will also expire. The only way to keep them in water is to change the water every ½ hour or so, or attach a battery operated aerator.

There are all kinds of collapsible crab traps you can buy. Most have two or four doors. Some come assembled and some do not. Make sure you buy string or light nylon cord to secure the bait and assemble the traps if necessary. Buy some rope or “crab trap line” to attach to the crab trap so you can lower it into the water. Carry a knife or pair of scissors with you. Tie chicken necks (or any kind of chicken parts) or bunker fish to the bottom of the trap. If you do not secure the bait, the crabs will walk the bait right out of your trap! Lower the traps to the bottom and pull them up every 10-15 minutes.

You can also buy crab rings! Crab rings come in either cloth or wire. These are less expensive than traps. The crabber ties the bait at the center of the ring and attaches “crab trap line” to the lighter lines that hold the ring in place. Lower it to the bottom where it will lie flat on the bottom of the bay. Pull it up quickly since it doesn’t have a top!

“How do you get the crabs out of the traps and rings?”

If you use a trap, hold all sides closed except for one. Tilt the trap towards the bucket or cooler and shake it until the crab falls out. With a ring, quickly tilt it towards the cooler. You really need tongs if you use the rings. Sometimes, if the kids drop it flat on the dock, crabs start crawling out and running towards the water. Kids have great fun chasing them down with the tongs!

If you are seriously trying to catch crabs, teach the kids patience. Pulling the traps up too often and splashing them back in the water will scare the crabs away. Be quiet and you’ll catch more crabs. Tide is important too. Higher tides will catch bigger crabs. Crab two to three hours before high tide and two to three hours after high tide. Sometimes they will quit feeding during the slack high tide, so wait it out.

“Where do we go to crab in Maryland?”

•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.

•9th Street Pier - located at 9th Street and the bay.

•Oceanic Pier - is a pay pier at the southernmost end of Ocean City. Best with traps.

•Isle of Wight - a public bulkhead and rocky beach. 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.” Walk about a ¼ mile from the parking area to the bulkhead for the best crabbing. Best for traps as the railing is high for lines.

•Assateague Island - 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 fee to get into the National Park.

•South Point Public Boat Ramp - Travel south 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 south on 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. There is no legal parking so you’ll 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. There is no legal parking, so you’ll need to be dropped off.

•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.

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

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 00:22