Crabbing is a very popular summertime activity around the Galveston Bay Complex and generates a lot of questions from readers, especially on how and where to crab.
If you are new to crabbing, let’s take a look at some of the basics to get you started.
A ring (hoop) net or hand-held crab trap that opens when landing on bottom and closes as it is pulled up, or for those preferring the hand-held line with bait on the end, a ready-made crab line, together with a long handle dip net, or for the lazy crabber, a crab trap.
All of the above are available at most bait camps and tackle shops. Academy Sports and Walmart carry a good supply and assortment.
Chicken or turkey necks, fish heads or carcasses, or just about any other internal parts of chickens work well.
Where to crab?
Just about any spot where there is access to saltwater. If the location is privately owned, be sure to get the owner’s permission before entering.
How to crab?
For simplicity sake, let’s discuss the most common method, and that is with crab line and dip net. After choosing your location, place your bait — let’s use chicken necks for example — on the end of your crab line. The clip is designed to clasp the bait so it cannot be easily pulled away. Toss your baited line in fairly shallow water. When you notice the line stretched out, pull it slowly toward you with your dip net just touching the water. Once you see the crab, quickly dip it up.
My suggestion is to use multiple crab lines, with each tied to a stable object such as a nail in a pier, and spread at least 10 feet apart.
To keep your catch alive, do not place the crabs in water; rather, just keep them moist. If using a tub, moisten your crabs and keep them out of the sun. You also may place them on ice and keep them cold until cleaning.
Regulations set a minimum size of 5 inches for the blue crab, measured from spine to spine, and the right claw on the stone crab is the only one that may be taken and must be at least 21/2 inches long. Stone crabs must be returned to the water alive after removal of the claw. Crabbers are under the same license requirements as fishermen.