How to Catch Crabs

Welcome the simple world of crabbing. Catching your own crabs can be fun and rewarding for the entire family. All you need is several inexpensive items and an appetite.

There are two simple ways to crab on the Outer Banks: hand lining and pull traps.

Hand lining is the simplest and less expensive. Hand lining requires a medium length on string or line, bait, a dip net and a container or bucket. The string or cotton rope should cut into lengths that will allow to throw a piece of bait a short distance from the shore. The bait is then tied to the end of the string and tossed away from the shore. Make sure it’s into deeper water and far enough out that the crabs can’t see you standing on the shore. Then wait for a tug on the line. This tug is a crab attempting to pull the bait into the deeper water. Once you feel the tug, slowly pull the line toward you. When the crab is in sight, slowly lower the net into the water and scoop up the crab. Crabs are fast and aware of you, so your scoop needs to be quick to prevent the crab from escaping back into the water.

Once you have the crab in your net, transfer it into your bucket. Crabs have very strong claws so extreme care should be taken not to allow the crab to grab your hand or clothes.

A pull trap is the second way and easiest way to catch crabs. Basically, the crab catches themselves by entering the trap in search of food and you just raising and folding the trap up around the crab.

I use pull traps on bridges and docks. I tie a rope or medium size line on the top of the trap, bait it and lower into the water. I usually leave it alone for several minutes for the crabs to find the bait. You will not feel the bite. So periodically, you need to raise the trap, check the bait and if you crabs have found your bait, lower it back down.

It is a little more difficult to remove the crab from the pull trap because you need to open the trap completely and scoop the crab up and into a bucket.

The best bait is chicken necks or backs. But you can also use any part of the chicken. Some crabbers use fish heads or other parts. Either bait should work. One key is that the stinky bait catches more crabs faster than fresh.

The final step is cooking and enjoying the crabs. There many recipes on the web, so pick the one that suits your taste and enjoy!!