How to Catch Stone Crab

How to Catch Stone CrabSport crabbing can be done one of two ways: with a net or with traps. Net crabbing has the same virtues as a peaceful, relaxing day spent fishing. Trap crabbing promises a bigger haul for the dinner table and a little bit of the real crab fisherman experience. Either way, recreational crabbing can be a fun seaside activity for the young and old.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Net Crabbing

Things You’ll Need:
  • Crab net
  • Boat with hoist (optional for nets; required for traps)
  • Chicken necks
  • Bucket(s) of salt water
  • Plastic traps (optional)
  • Spool of rope
  • Knife
  • Metal rings
  • Marker floats
Step 1
Find a comfortable spot on a pier, or take a small boat or raft out in a harbor, mud flat, oyster bed, sea grass or weed area or the tidal area around where a stream or river flows out to sea. These are good places for crabbing.
Step 2
Bait your nylon crabbing net by placing one or two chicken necks in the bottom of it.
Step 3
Lower your net into the water until it reaches the bottom.
Step 4
Pull the net back up after 10 or 15 minutes or if you feel any tugging. If there is no crab, but your bait is still there, lower the net back into the water and try again.
Step 5
Put any live crabs into a bucket of salt water, so they don't die and spoil while you continue fishing.

Trap Crabbing

Step 1
Do your research on the area you choose for crabbing and determine the average depth. A good start is at the harbormaster's office, which should have charts revealing the depth measurements of local waters. Exclude harbor areas from consideration because if you are using traps then you don't want to bother with such places. Harbors are not likely to have enough crabs to justify using traps over a simple crabbing net, and even if you could get away with dropping traps and floats in the harbor, it will prove very awkward.
Step 2
Use a knife to cut one rope per trap, which adds an extra 10 feet, to accommodate differences in the bottom. Tie this rope to the trap, and then tie a two-inch metal ring to the other end. Attach a float marker to the metal ring. The alternative to researching the depth of where you want to crab is to use sonar on the site and do the trap rigging there. This is a lot more awkward, especially for a recreational crabber.
Step 3
Bait the trap with chicken necks. You will want to put several (6 or more) pieces in each trap.
Step 4
Take a boat large enough to accommodate your traps and a hoist to your chosen site. Put the traps over the side.
Step 5
Return at dawn the next day to check your traps. Boat up to the float, pull it out of the water, hook a line to the trap, and use the hoist's winch to pull it up. If it has crabs, pull it into the boat. If it doesn't, out it back in the water if you wish to continue crabbing. Your bait will be good for up to three days.
Step 6
Take the crabs out of the trap, and put them into a bucket of salt water.

Tips & Warnings

If the harbormaster doesn't have any charts (or worse, if they do not exist), try either talking to local fishermen or contacting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Be sure to check local regulations regarding recreational crabbing. For example, Florida has a five crab trap per person limit; specifies October 15--May 15 as the crabbing season; and limits each person to a 1-gallon bucket of claws.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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