Crab season has started and we like to think of us as the crabbiest store on shoreline! It’s a fun activity to do with your family and there are many yummy recipes that you can use with the crab. In fact, we have a delicious crab dip further on in our newsletter.
There are many areas in Guilford that are popular for crabbing. You often see people crabbing on Route 146 or down by the Olmstead Outlook by the river. You can find good crabbing spots in saltwater, typically in marshes, bays, inlets and the ocean. The best spots are near underwater structures, such as pilings and bridges.
It’s easy to crab and you don’t need to invest a lot of money in equipment. In fact, a string, rock, some chicken legs, a net and a bucket will do. If you are going to spend some time out there crabbing we recommend:
Bag of ice
Crab trap or hand line
Junk Knife (for bait)
-Net (if using a hand line)
There are laws that govern crabbing and you can be fined if you do not abide. You may only crab May 1st to November 30th in Connecticut. There is no daily limit (on Blue Crabs) and the crab must be at least 5 inches for a hard shell or 3 1/2 inches for a soft shell. (spike tip to spike tip.) You can purchase tools such as our shellfish gauge, or you can simply mark with notches on a stick and measure that way. If the crab is too small, throw him back. You also need to throw back egg-bearing females. Click here to learn how to tell the difference between genders and crab maturity.
There are several types of bait to use. Anything from hot dogs to chicken legs, or really any kind of meat. Chicken legs are best, as the crabs can’t break it off the line and take away.
Weighted hand lines/drop lines- This is a rope with a weighted hook on the end.
The weight keeps the bait from floating up. Tie the end of the string that doesn’t have the hook on it to something that is secure so that the crab can’t pull the entire line into the water. Attach the bait securely to the hook to prevent crabs from taking the bait. Once the bait is on the hook, throw it 8 to 10 feet into the water and let it hit the bottom. Leave it there for 5 to 10 minutes, unless you see the line move. Pull in the line very slowly until you can see if a crab is attached to the bait. If so, scoop your net in slowly under the crab. You have to act fast as crabs will react quickly and will let go of the bait. If there is no crab, then throw the string and bait back into the water.
Another popular way to catch crabs is though trapping. The Eagle Claw triangle trap is made out of a wire-like mesh and has four triangles and a square. One triangle is attached to each side of the square and strings are attached to the ends of the triangles. The strings join at a ring which is located above and in the center of the trap. A longer string is attached to the ring, so when a crab takes the bait in the center of the trap, you can pull on the string and the sides of the trap will close. Then you simply lift the trap out of the water.
When you catch your first crab, be careful. Crabs have claws and will pinch you. If you get pinched, pull the crab away from you with your other hand until the claw breaks off the crab. The best way to hold a crab is to grab it’s last leg or the flipper leg.