Blue Crabs: My Best Crabbing Spots in Florida

Catching blue crabs and stone crabs is loads of fun!
Catching blue crabs and stone crabs is loads of fun! | Source

Family Fun with Crabbing

My family and I have caught hundreds of stone and blue crabs over the years. We've done almost all of our crab fishing in Georgia and Florida, in the Atlantic Ocean as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re thinking of trying your hand at crabbing, great! Even little kids can get in on the action. It’s a wonderful family activity and can be deliciously rewarding. Read on to find out more information about blue crabs, stone crabs, crab traps, crab nets, and crab season. I’ll even share my “secret” blue crab spot with you!

Steamed Blue Crabs
Steamed Blue Crabs | Source

Blue Crab Facts

Blue crab is maybe the tastiest crab on the planet. It’s sweet, mild, delicate and is prized by chefs and gourmets alike. With blue crabs so abundant in Florida, I’m always surprised by beach vacationers who never even think of catching their own. Not only is crabbing a fun activity that the whole family can do, the rewards are delicious – and cheap.

Blue crab can be served in many different ways. Some of my favorite recipes include crab cakes, crab pie, crab salad, crab quiche, and hot, cheesy crab spread. Of course, like most blue crab enthusiasts, I think they are best steamed with beer, vinegar, and spices. Once the critters are cooked, all you need is a mallet, crab crackers, melted butter, and some hot sauce or other spicy seasonings.

On some of our crabbing adventures, we’ve also caught stone crab. In most of the areas in Florida where we’ve crabbed, blue crabs are far more abundant than stone crabs. When we catch a stone crab, however, it’s a reason to get excited!

Stone Crab Claws
Stone Crab Claws | Source

Stone Crab Claws

With a stone crab, only the claws are eaten. Some of these rascals have very meaty claws, and the meat is much easier to retrieve from a stone crab than it is from a blue crab. And, as you'll see below, you don't have to kill the crab either!

Stone crab claws are awesome! We don’t usually use a lot of spices with them like we do with blue crabs. We like to dip the meat in melted butter, lime juice, and a little salt. Sometimes we use a mustard sauce for stone crab claws.

Once you catch a stone crab, you simply break off the larger “arm” and claw, or if you so choose, you can remove both claws. The crab will grow a completely new, functional claw in a few months, provided it gets enough food. You can help with it grow back too, which I'll get to shortly.

Big Blue Crab!
Big Blue Crab! | Source
Huge blue crab!
Huge blue crab! | Source

Crabbing Line Instructions

It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you’re crabbing in a good spot. In my opinion, the easiest and most successful crabbing is done with large wire crab traps. That’s not the only method, however.

If your crab experiences will be few and far between and you don't want to invest in the large wire traps, you can quickly learn how to catch crabs the old-fashioned way: with a string or line and a dip net. With this method, you tie a piece of bait to one end of the weighted line and then toss the line into a likely spot. Leave the line still so that you can watch it closely for any movement. When you see or feel a tug on the line, slowly pull it in. When you see the crab, carefully slip the net under it, and voila! You’ve caught your first blue crab.

How to Catch Crabs:

Blue Crab Season

Before you get all excited, you need to know when the crabbing season is for your area. In Florida, blue crab season is all year unless you’re crabbing further out than three miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico or in federal waters. These short closures are by region – not state wide.

Recreational crabbers are allowed to have up to five crab traps each, and you can catch any-sized blue crabs. I'd recommend throwing back the small ones, though – they’re more trouble than they’re worth, so it’s better to let them grow up and produce more crabs.

It's also best to release the females. If they have eggs, you have to throw them back - otherwise it's up to you. Females with eggs are usually called “sponge crabs” due to the eggs' sponge-like growth. The bag limit for blue crab in the Sunshine State is ten gallons of whole crabs per day – and that’s for each recreational crabber.

Stone crab season in Florida is October 15-May 15.
Stone crab season in Florida is October 15-May 15. | Source

Florida Stone Crab Season and Harvesting Rules

The state of Florida is stricter with its stone crab season. Stone crab season opens October 15 and remains in effect through May 15. The minimum legal size for the claw is two and three-quarter inches, measured from the joint at the end of the claw to the tip of the shorter claw. The recreational limit is one gallon of stone crab claws per person. If you're on a boat, you can harvest up to two gallons, provided that there are at least two people crab fishing. However, that's two gallons total, not per person!

In Florida, it’s legal to take both claws from a stone crab as long as they both measure two and three-quarters inches – except, of course, for females with eggs. I'd recommend against taking both stone crab claws. It’s much better to take the larger claw and leave the crab with one to feed and defend itself. The mortality rate is much, much lower that way, which means more stone crab claws in the future! To see how to remove stone crab claws correctly, check out the video below.

How to Remove Stone Crab Claws:

We like these crab traps best.
We like these crab traps best. | Source

Crab Traps

There are several types of crab traps you can buy. If you’re handy, you might even decide to build your own. We’ve tried metal pyramid crab traps, collapsible metal crab baskets, string traps, and mesh box traps. After buying and using our first box trap, we’re never going back to any other type.

Box traps are sturdy, so they don't fall apart like the string traps. It has a special holder for the bait, too, so the crabs won't eat the bait as quickly. With the box traps, you set the bait, throw the trap out, and leave it. The crabs can’t escape – unless they’re too small to bother with, anyway. These traps can also catch several crabs at one time. Honestly, if you visit the coast often, these crab traps are a great investment! They work equally well as blue crab traps and as stone crab traps.

Crab Bait

Different crabbers have different ideas about what makes the best crab bait. From my experience, the best bait for blue crab is a smelly, oily fish like mullet or menhaden, but practically any type of fish or other flesh will work. Lots of crabbers prefer chicken parts, especially necks and backs. Chicken has the advantage of being tougher and lasting longer than most fish. One thing I have noticed is that stone crabs seem to be a little pickier about the bait they go for. In my experience, if you want to chow down on some fresh stone crab claws, go with the chicken.

Sometimes the grands prefer using dip-type crab nets, sharp eyesight, and quick reflexes for crabbing.
Sometimes the grands prefer using dip-type crab nets, sharp eyesight, and quick reflexes for crabbing. | Source

Crab Nets

Crab nets can refer to dip nets used with line crabbing, or to seine nets used to catch crabs. Believe it or not, sometimes all you need to catch a crab is a net: no bait or line necessary! The grandkids often catch blue crabs by just sighting them and trapping them in their little crab nets. This method works best in small tidal pools.

We’ve used small seines as crab nets, too, with good results. The first time I went seining for crabs, I thought there was no way we were going to catch any crabs with such a short net – I think it was only six feet in length. My friend who lived at the beach, however, assured me that she often caught crabs with it. After the first pull, I became a believer. Try using one yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised!

A great spot for crabbing on Anna Maria Island.
A great spot for crabbing on Anna Maria Island. | Source
Simpson Creek is on First Coast Highway.
Simpson Creek is on First Coast Highway. | Source
Simpson Creek is full of big blue crabs!
Simpson Creek is full of big blue crabs! | Source

Best Crabbing Spots in Florida

Okay, readers, I’m going to share three of my favorite crabbing spots in Florida with you. One of them – the best of all – is sort of a secret, so keep it to yourself!

3. Fort Clinch State Park on Amelia Island

My third best spot is located in Northeast Florida, on Amelia Island. It’s the Amelia River at Fort Clinch State Park. Go to the river campground, where there’s a narrow beach at the river. This beach is rarely crowded. In fact, you might be there all alone. It’s not safe for swimming, and the beach is too small for beach activities. There might be a fisherman or two there, but most of them will probably be on the park’s pier.

If you’re using box crab traps, you can toss them in and tie them to the small dock. For line crabbing, try anywhere along the shore, but don’t go out too deep. The current in the deep channel can be deadly. At this spot, we’ve caught only blue crabs.

2. Between Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe

My second best crabbing spot is on the Gulf, between Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe. This area is located on the Florida Panhandle. There’s a large bridge connecting the two towns, and underneath that bridge is a great place for blue crab fishing.

We’ve never used crab traps here, but we’ve cleaned up on blue crabs! We used the line method, along with the spot-and-dip method. The kids loved this! They just walked along the shore, looking for swimming crabs. When they saw one, they’d scoop it up in a net. This spot ties with Anna Maria Island, which isn’t quite as good for blue crabs, but it’s great for stone crabs. Try any of the small canals on the eastern side of the island.

Port St. Joe, FL

1. Simpson Creek (South of Amelia Island)

Okay, here’s the best spot in Florida that I’ve found for blue crabs. It’s in a tidal creek called Simpson Creek, located between the southern tip of Amelia Island and Jacksonville. If you head south from Amelia Island on First Coast Highway, start looking for the creek about three or four miles after you cross Shave Bridge.

You’ll need a small boat to get these big boys, and I do mean big boys! There used to be sort of a boat ramp there, but I didn't see a driveway for vehicles when I was there today, although the dirt road just north of the creek bridge might lead to one. Otherwise, you'll need a kayak or canoe.

These were the largest blue crabs I’d ever seen, and I discovered them quite by accident.

Allow me to explain. Years ago, my ex and I were trolling in a small boat for redfish, trout, and flounder. We went pretty far up the creek, towards the east, and we found a deep pool. We decided to anchor and do some casting. Hubby caught a 4 ½ foot-long shark, and he decided to haul it into our fourteen-foot bass boat. Do the math! This was not a good situation, and I was not a happy camper. “Jaws Junior” wasn’t happy, either. In fact, it was downright hostile. It began thrashing about, flipping its tail, and chomping at everything within reach of its pointy teeth. The ex- was unfazed. He was determined to get some nice shark fillets.

Once the shark was killed and we had caught our breath, we noticed the shark damage. Fishing gear, soda cans, and papers were scattered in the water. As we were cleaning up, I noticed a giant blue crab inspecting a paper wrapper of some sort. As I watched, fascinated, another bruiser began fighting the first crab for the paper. Now, I’ve never been one to ignore an opportunity, so I decided to give the shelled warriors something better to chew on. I tied a piece of cut mullet to a section of fishing line, and into the brine it went – right next to the boat. Those two crabs latched onto that smelly mullet like it was the greatest treat in the world. Heck, they were so voracious that I didn’t even have to use a dip net! They hung on long enough for me to drop them into our massive cooler. This happened over and over again, until our ice chest almost runneth over. We had a blue crab feast! I’ve returned to about the same spot several times, and I had great success again and again. When I used chicken necks, I even caught a few stone crabs along with the blue, so we enjoyed a blue crab and stone crab claws “pig out.”

Why is this such a great spot for crabs? I’ve thought about this a lot. We were pretty far up the creek, and the crabs seemed completely unafraid of us, so maybe they don’t come in contact with many humans. Also, I don’t think there’s much crabbing pressure there. I’ve never seen anyone else crabbing in the creek. In fact, I’ve rarely seen more than a couple of fishermen there at any one time. The crabs probably have access to lots of food, too, as the creek is abundant with fish. Rut-roh – good thing we’re headed to Florida for some fishing and crabbing in two weeks. I’m craving steamed blue crabs now!

Shave Bridge at Nassau Sound, Amelia Island, FL

A markershave bridge, amelia island, fl -
Amelia Island, Florida 32034, USA
[get directions]

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Comments 50 comments

Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

Interesting hub. I've never been crabbing, although my husband has. I like to fish, though. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Cap213 4 years ago

I do a lot of crabbing down here in Louisiana as well. Always a lot of fun and extremely tasty afterwards ! Great Hub.

Edwin Brown 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

Great hub. Lots of good information. I don't think I have ever eaten a blue crab. They sound delicious.

Here on the west coast (Oregon and Washington) we have lots of Dungeness crabs. They are caught with traps or by line, with bait.

Much of what you say about the how to for crabbing in your neck of the woods would also apply up north here.

Dungeness crab is absolutely delicious, and costly if you have to buy them. I have friends who go out regularly for them in bay waters and often do well. I haven't done any crabbing here yet. I think I need to get with the program.

Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I won't tell a soul! But I will definitely check these places out when I get a chance! I love your photos - and as always, you have great information here! Voted up and up!

Jill 4 years ago

I think you are misleading folks, it is illegal in the state of Florida to take BOTH stone crab claws... How do you suppose it would eat/protect itself with no claw? You take 1 claw & that way next season you can take the other and the crab isn't left defenseless & also ensures the propagation of the species.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Gee, Jill, you'd better contact Florida Fish & Wildlife! According to their website of state laws, it IS legal to remove both claws.

Read it for yourself:

Even though it's legal to remove both claws, I don't think it's a good idea, as I said in my article.

Subin Verma 3 years ago

Any one done any crabbing in horseshoe beach in Florida?

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Sorry, Subin. I haven't done any crabbing there.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

I live in Florida and have never been crabbing here. I have been shrimping...what fun that is.

But when I was growing up in Virginia crabbing was a frerquent pastime for blue crabs. Also we would take a skiff and go along the edge of the creek and collect as many soft shell crabs as we could. .

Thanks for reminding me of how much I enjoyed this.

Now of course I will need to seek out some of these spots and rekindle experiences of my youth.

Sending Angels your way ps

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, ps! I haven't done any shrimping with a boat, but we've caught them with beach seines. That's fun! Since you live in FL, you need to take advantage of the blue crabs and stone crabs. Yum!

summerberrie 3 years ago

Your pictures are beautiful. There is nothing like having pictures of little ones at the beach. I love living in the coastal South. Thanks for the fun read and great information. And, WOW, that was one big stone crab claw!

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

SB, I figured you'd enjoy the hub, as you're a fellow crabber AND a fellow southerner! We'll be doing lots of crabbing next month when we head to South Florida for a week. Can't wait!

summerberrie 3 years ago

I know you will have a great time!

rita 3 years ago

i'm in st cloud where can i buy live crabs

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Rita, try Ocean's Harvest, at 4053 13th St. They usually have live crabs.

mdido 3 years ago

I'm a grad student at FSU, here from Maryland for school. Would love to get back out on the shores (or docks) to do some crabbing. Any suggestions for locations on the gulf coast just south of Tallahassee? St. Georges or St. Marks seems a bit far to go, is there anywhere on the Appalachee Bay I can crab off a dock or shoreline?

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

You can crab from shore easily along the bay for blue crabs.

elizabeth r 3 years ago

making you on crab trap is easy and only takes about 30 min with stuff in your home look on you tube

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

elizabeth, thanks for that! I've been wondering if hubby could make our own crab traps, as they don't look too complicated.

ToddFromKentucky 3 years ago

My in-laws live on a canal in Port Charlotte. What are my chances of success crabbing with traps off of their dock? Thanks!

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Todd, I haven't crabbed in Port Charlotte, but I've had success catching crabs in other Florida canals. Go for it - and good luck!

ToddFromKentucky 3 years ago

Thanks! I will be down there over Labor Day Weekend and I will report back. Hopefully with a story of success...cold beer and crabs!

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Todd, let me know how your crabbing goes!

Jefferson 3 years ago

I love this - in my world, shellfish and latguher are New Years requirements! When I was young, my father started the now-grand tradition of the New Years lobster bake. We would trek down to the quaintly gourmet grocery store in the city and I would press myself up against the tall glass seafood case while my father ordered 3 aluminum roasting pans each containing one whole lobster, a pound each of clams and mussels, potatoes, onions, carrots and corn cobs. Watching the ball drop with my parents, all of us covered in butter and lobster shrapnel remains one of my favorite memoriesI carried this tradition into my adult life for the first time for me and my husband's first New Year. As I am wont to do, I upped the ante by doubling the amount of clams and mussels. Try as we might, neither of us could make a dent in our respective troughs of deliciousness. Don't worry, there was no waste - those leftovers made possibly the best manhattan-ish clam chowder I've ever had!

JW 3 years ago

My husband, 10 year old son and I are headed to Cape San Blas in a couple of weeks. We plan on doing some scalloping and will definitely check out your hidey hole in Port St. Joe!

habee profile image

habee 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Jefferson, "lobster shrapnel" - love it! lol

JW, It's a great spot for flounder, too. Good luck!

mgeorge1050 profile image

mgeorge1050 2 years ago from West Georgia

Great hub. My family and I are headed down to Alligator Point for a week this spring. I already have the crab traps ready.

uat 2 years ago

I am taking my kids and dog to Cape San Blas/Indian Pass this summer for a long overdue vacation. I plan to rent a boat for a day to do some snorkeling, crabbing and maybe scalloping activities. These are something that we never did before and I don't want to let them down. Does any one have any suggestion as where to go from either boat or shore for crabbing?

I read a LOT of articles on different types of crap trap, but the more I read the harder it's to tell which works better. Anyone has a recommadations on which one might be a sure bet?

Mel 2 years ago

It may be legal to take both claws but is cruel.

Tee 2 years ago

I went crabbing at Mexico Beach and caught a little over a dozen in three hours.

Crabs aren't as plentiful as the used to be.

Every year the count diminishes but, when I got my first one of the year... I felt like a kid in the candy store.

I chuckled to myself with great joy!

Have fun... it's the effort that counts.

BestSpinningReels profile image

BestSpinningReels 23 months ago from Minnesota, USA

Wow, I have never ever in my life even thought about crab fishing. It just looked something totally different than normal angling. But the way you laid out all the basics and techniques makes it really easy, for somebody like me, to start crab fishing. I hope that the spots you gave out were not your true favorite spots, because they may get saturated, by me!

Dana 21 months ago

Great info, have crabbed up by St. Joe with my family, did great and had lots of fun. I live on the West coast of FL near Tampa. My mom is visiting and wanted to do some crabbing, we are having a little cool snap. Do you know if it's better crabbing when it's cooler or warmer?

habee profile image

habee 21 months ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Dana. If you're near Tampa, you should be able to catch (and keep!) some stone crabs. Good luck!

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 19 months ago from sunny Florida

You know, I have lived in Florida for many years and have not been crabbing here. Reading this was a nostalgic piece for me as I grew up on the waters of Virginia and we went crabbing..soft shelled and blue crab. We crabbed off our dock and also set crab pots.

Thanks for the memories

Angels are on the way to you ps

habee profile image

habee 19 months ago from Georgia Author

pstraubie, great to hear from you! You need to go crabbing!

janderson99 profile image

janderson99 19 months ago from Australia on Planet Water

Reminds me or when I ran out of food on a sailing trip. We snorkeled down and pinched the crabs from the pots that lay flat of the bottom with float above. No one noticed and we only took one of a pair or more.

Drew Lawrence profile image

Drew Lawrence 19 months ago

Definitely enjoyed this. I go crabbing in nearby Maryland and I'm thinking about transferring to a college down in Florida

Hooch Hobbies profile image

Hooch Hobbies 16 months ago

Great hub! I've referenced it several times in preparation for an excursion in Destin in September. Do you have any tips you would be willing to share for blue crab hunting there?

Jsmith 16 months ago

I have been crabbing with my grandmother on sc coastline throughout my childhood. I haven't ever visited the gulf until this week- in my 35 yrs. We brought a houseful of teenagers- one that introduced me to night crabbing. Those kids caught more blue crab with a flashlight and net than I have ever caught with cages or line. I'm thinking that no matter where you are in the gulf- if you want crabs- all you need is a flashlight and net.... So much fun and enthusiasm (even for 16-17 yr olds)....

thomas osborn 16 months ago

Hi i just move to fla crystal river area and am wanting to buy new or used bluecrab traps here my cell 309-644-0150 or email me at or send me info to 5892 dayton corners colona ill 61241

kelly 16 months ago

Hi, would anybody know where is good to catch crabs in west palm beach FL ? Thank you.

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Holly, this is a great hub. I love crab cakes and never had blue crab before. I might try it this year. Crabbing sounds like fun and hard work to me.

ChrisCampbell05 profile image

ChrisCampbell05 12 months ago from Tampa, FL

Great resource for Florida. You should do a post on Florida spearfishing spots.

hannah 11 months ago

Hi awesome info!!! My husband is wanting to go crabbing for his birthday in December. Have you ever crabbed in Tampa? any good spots or tips? We may end up going to the Jacksonville are instead. We really want it to be successful this time :P

Katie 4 months ago

This is great! I've recently started a hobby of crabbing and I live in Jacksonville! Im definitely going to go check out these places you've listed!

DaveM 3 months ago

Does anyone know of a good crabbing stop down here in key west?

Rmarch/deep South Louisiana 3 months ago

I really enjoyed your link. I myself am a frequent recreational crabber, using string line drops with (10#bag chicken fryers spread out, on drops, directly on the surf (coast line), and with a bass net. 1/2 hour before sunrise is the best time we can start. We put our line only about 50 out in 3 feet of water. No trap needed. This is a great hobby and i usually give 3/4 of my catch to the poor and church members. I do this 3 to 4 times every summer, for many years, inbetween july4 to aug 6. In early july, on the coast line, i may get 1 1/2 dozen blue crabs, crabbin all day, with hardly any crabs in the berry stage. Around the middle of july, we will may get about 6 dozen with 20% in the berry stage. Now, july 26th, give or take 2 days, I will say is the sweetest time, where we might take 15 to 30 dozen, crabbing 4 hrs to all day with up to 30% being return because of the berry stage. Spotty shower are a plus. 87+ degrees water is a plus. It's 12 dozen per person here, limit. All states are different, so check. So, kids provide a role! They are great. Finally, if you do go in early august, you better wear tennis shoes cause you will step on some! They will be the largest and totally full, (always 99% female), but we'll return roughly 75% back cause of the berry stage. One chicken leg may have 6 crabs on it and 4 arent keepers. The bigger the crab, the faster you need to be with your dip net. Thats why i say around july 26, every year, is game-on for blue crabs on gulf coastlines! Hope this is helpful to some gd luck and tc

Doyle D Dunnam Sr 3 weeks ago

Anyone know of any good Blue Crabbing locations in Naples FL.? Please let me know, I would appreciate it... thanks

chantal 2 weeks ago

Where in Hudson Fla is good?

habee profile image

habee 2 weeks ago from Georgia Author

I'm not familiar with Hudson, but maybe someone else will read and offer you some advice.

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