Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Catch Blue Crabs

Crabbing is very easy to do and is a great way to get the whole family involved in a fun low country activity with the potential to catch a really tasty dinner. Another great benefit is how remarkable cheap it is to get started. There is no extensive tackle or fishing gear involved when learning how to catch blue crabs. Some people swear by the crab pots or nets, though these are not really needed when you have some heavier string or light rope and a good retrieval net.
First thing to do is make sure you have all your supplies. You will need some line, a few fishing weights, a net and a bucket or cooler to keep your crab should you get lucky and catch some. If you are staying on Kiawah or Seabrook, you can find simple inexpensive crab line and weights at the sport store located at Freshfield’s or stop at a Target if you plan on being in Charleston. I am not sure if Publix or Piggly Wiggly has this sort of stuff, but it is always worth a look.
You also need to get yourself some bait. Crabs eat just about any kind of meat. The recommended bait is boney chicken parts such as wings or necks. Fish heads also work well. Don’t go overboard on buying expensive bait such as shrimp. Blue crabs are non discriminating and will be happy with the butcher’s leftovers. Just make sure you buy meat that has bone interconnected throughout to make it easy to fasten onto your line.
Once you get home with your equipment and bait, it is time to gather the crabbing crew and head out to a good crabbing location. Ideal blue crabbing locations are tidal salt or brackish waters that are located near bridges, docks, and boat landings. Blue crabbing is ideal throughout most of the southeastern coastal waters with Charleston area being no exception. We usually walk down to the Kiawah river boat lands as these areas are ideal since they allow you clean places to sit down not to mention be safely clear of marsh predators such as snakes and alligators.
Once you get to your destination, take the bait out and knot the heavy string or thin rope around the bait securely. You only need to knot one maybe two pieces. You will need to place a weight or two just above the bait otherwise the lightness of the line and river current will keep the bait too high up in the water. Now throw the end of the line into the water and hold the other end of the line or tie off to the dock. Allow the line to sit for a while to allow the crabs to sniff out and attack the chicken pieces. If you are lucky you will get some tension and resistance in the line. Crab on! Slowly pull in the line hand over hand. As you get the crab and bait closer to the surface have someone assist you with pulling in the crab with a net.
Review the South Carolina DNR guidelines (or DNR laws of your state) on crabbing regulations as they are subject to change from time to time. When I last went crabbing a year ago the rule was the crab could be kept if over if over 4 inches and not egg carrying females. Please do not keep the crab unless you absolutely intend on cooking them up. It takes about five to six blues to feed an adult. Though these catch numbers per person will go down if you plan on using the meat for crab cakes or as a stuffing.
The crabs should be kept cold or cool in a cooler or bucket. If you plan on cooking up your crab you should probably do so immediately as they will not last too long out of water. Learning how to catch blue crabs is easy and another fun way to experience the low country.

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