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How to Catch Blue Crabs, With Videos

Holle Abee has long experience fishing, crabbing, and hunting in the Southern US.

Male blue crab.

Male blue crab.

Free Blue Crabs for Your Crab Recipes

The meat of the blue crab is considered by many to be the sweetest and best tasting of all crabs. You won’t get the large sections of meat that you get from the king crab or the snow crab, but the flesh from the blue will be tastier. Also, you won’t have to pay the high prices demanded of the larger species – you can catch plenty of blue crabs on your own, for free! You can find some great crab recipes just begging for your attention!

Crabbing is fun and easy, and it’s a great activity for kids.

Crabbing Laws

Before you get started, check with the state’s laws regarding crabbing. You can find this information on the internet, and it will tell you about any closed seasons, daily limits, and size requirements. All of my crabbing has been done in Florida and Georgia. In Florida, crabbing can be done all year from shore during daylight hours, and there’s no minimum size. Traps are limited to five per person, and the daily limit for crabs is 10 gallons per day per harvester. Recreational crabbing in Georgia can be done 24/7, all year, except for a few short regional closed seasons. Crabs must measure at least 5 inches across the back, from spike to spike, except for adult females, which must measure 3 inches. Peeler crabs must also measure at least 3 inches. The daily limit is one bushel of whole crabs.

Return Females With Eggs

In all states, it's illegal to keep egg-bearing females. So how do you know if you’ve caught a male, a mature female, or a crab with eggs?

The male blue crab is called a “jimmy.” The apron on its underside will be narrow and pointed, like the Washington Monument. The mature female crab is known as a “sook.” Its apron will be dome-shaped, like the U.S. Capitol. The tips of its claws will be red. An immature female, called a “sally,” will have a triangle-shaped apron. Females with eggs are easy to spot. It looks like they have a sponge attached to their underside. ALWAYS return these to the water unharmed.

Mature female crab.

Mature female crab.

Ready for some crabbing now? My kids and I have caught blue crabs using a number of methods.

Crabbing in the Surf

Sometimes while we’re playing in the surf, we’ll spot a crab and catch it in the dip net. We’ve actually caught our limit this way while walking along the shore of a bay or tidal river. You’ll usually need to entice the crabs, though. To do this, tie a chicken neck, leg, or back to a piece of cord and toss it into the water. When you feel a tug, SLOWLY retrieve the chicken part. When you see the crab, scoop it up with a net.

Using Crab Traps

To catch more crabs, buy a crab trap and drop it from a pier or bridge. There are several different kinds of traps:

Round traps: These are very inexpensive and are made of wire and string. Tie a chicken part or a fish to the bottom of the trap and drop it into the water. The trap needs to have a weight attached to ensure that it rests on the bottom. Every 20 minutes or so, slowly lift the trap to check for crabs. If you have one, carefully lift it to retrieve the crab.

Pyramid traps: These traps are made of metal. When they rest on the bottom, they open up. When you pull the attached cord, the pyramid sides of the trap close, trapping any crabs inside. These traps are a little more expensive than the round traps, but they last from year to year. Use them the same way you use the round string traps.

Box traps: These traps are made of metal and are rectangular in shape. They’re more expensive than the above traps, but they’re easier to use. You can bait one of these, toss it into the water, and leave it for a long period of time without checking it. Once the crabs are in, it’s difficult for them to escape.

Using a Seine Net

Another way to catch crabs is with a seine net. These come in different lengths. For a short net, you’ll need 2 people. For a longer net, you’ll need an extra person in the center. To use a seine net, form the net into a shallow U shape, making a pocket. The person at the far end needs to wade into the deeper water and walk ahead of the person in the shallows. He needs to bring his end around, surrounding anything in the net. While the net is being dragged, be sure to keep the lower section of the net on the bottom. While you’re seining, there’s no telling what you might catch! You might ensnare mullet, redfish, flounder, trout, and whiting, along with crabs.

Retrieving Your Catch

When you’re retrieving your crabs from the net or trap, be careful. If you’re not experienced handling the armed critters, use a pair of long-handled tongs to pick up the crabs. Even a small crab has amazing strength in its claws. I still bear a scar on my thumb from a pinch I received years ago. Also, it’s important to keep your crabs alive until cleaning and cooking.

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Rick on May 10, 2019:

Need place to crab Venice,FL

Rosie on August 11, 2018:

Living in West Palm Fl. And looking for the closest place to crab..people here look at you like your crazy when you ask about crabbing. Being born in Jersey im use to those jersey blues..can anyone help..thanks

Marisa on September 24, 2017:

Nice story

Crabbing Man on May 01, 2012:

For more great tips to catch blue crabs, check out:

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on July 13, 2010:

Justin, we've caught them at all different times of the day, but it seems we've caught more at night. Try that. Thanks for reading!

justin on July 12, 2010:

hi my name is justin i live in south florida and i just started crab fishing is there a time when the crabs come out to feed because i was out at a great crabbing spot and i had it all to my self but the crabs would just hide in the rocks i beleive it was low tide at 2 or 3 in the afternoon please someone comment back i need information i want to catch some blue crab!!!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 23, 2010:

Thanks for reading, Rismayanti!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on April 23, 2010:

Drew, you should try it!

Rismayanti from Tropical Island on April 23, 2010:

Great hub.. i just know about blue crap.. thanks for share

Drew Breezzy from somewhere in my mind on November 20, 2009:

I would love to do this! Seafood is the best!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 20, 2009:

They're awesome, Contentmaster! Thanks for reading.

contentmaster on November 20, 2009:

Vooowwww. I even didn't know such blue crabs ever existed. Certainly looks worth trying the taste :)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 20, 2009:

Thanks for stopping by, Socit!

socit2009 on November 20, 2009:

Links :-

Thank you for effort & information

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 17, 2009:

Thanks, HH. I love just about anything to do with the ocean!

Hi, Zsuzsy! I'm with you, pal - those pork chops I'm thawing for dinner don't seem so great now!

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on November 17, 2009:

Wow Habee, this is something I'm going to have to put onto my To-do-before...list. I love, love, love blue crab, yum.

Thanks a lot, now I have a craving for crab...

Great hub

Kindest regards Zsuzsy

Hello, hello, from London, UK on November 17, 2009:

Hello, habee, you are pool of information and I enjoy reading and learning so much from your hubs. Thank you.

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