How to Crab Fish With a Net
Crabbing has become one of the most popular fishing sports since the popular Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch began airing. Do not be fooled into thinking that you need a large crab boat, 700-pound crab pots, a five-man crabbing crew, and one greenhorn to make fun of to get into crabbing. While all of that gear would be nice, you don't have to make a career out of crab fishing ("crabbing"), you only need twenty dollars and patience.
Crabbing for fun is referred to as recreational crab fishing and is a wonderful pass time. It only requires a few piece of inexpensive equipment, and sometimes, a license. Crabbing is a fun family activity, kids especially enjoy it, but beware to not let kids hold the crab as crabs' claws tend to be quite powerful!
What You Will Need
For your crabbing gear, you can go to your local fishing store and pick up a crab ring net for about five to eight dollars! You will also need nylon rope, a mesh bait bag, and a license depending on your state.
Crab Ring Net
A ring net is a very simple contraption, pictured here, that lays completely flat when lowered onto the sea floor. In the center is a bag holding your bait.
The nylon rope is so you can lower and raise the crab net. I like nylon because it won't really rot in the saltwater and it is very strong. You can use any type of rope that you'd like, depending on state laws of course, but I prefer the nylon. Be sure that you properly attach the rope to the net so that it doesn't slip off!
Additional Tip: Because nylon rope doesn't rot, be sure to not throw any into the crab habitat as it will not biodegrade. Keep our crabbing spots beautiful!
The mesh bag is to hold the bait that will bring you the crab, so it is very important in crabbing! This bag is filled with your bait, then is securely attached to the crab ring net so that it cannot float away, or worse, so a crafty crab will not walk off with it.
The license is very important because, while it may not seem like a necessary step, you can face large fines for fishing and crabbing without a license. In even more serious situations, you could even face jail time. The licenses are generally very cheap, usually around $15.00 for a year. Some states, like Florida, do not require a license for residents fishing and crabbing from a pier or land. It is very important that you not take my word for it and check all state laws as they do change from time to time. The easiest way to locate your state's laws is to search your state name and the phrase "fishing laws."
How It All Works Together
Now you have got the crab gear, but you need to know how it works.
Assemble the Ring Net
The nylon rope attaches to the hook on the crab ring net (you will understand when you see it.). Be sure to attach it with a good knot so that it cannot slip off. Make absolutely sure that you cannot slip the knot off of the hook!
Choose Your Bait
Fill your bait bag with whatever bait you would like. Many recreational crabbers like to use chicken, especially bone in chicken wings and chicken necks because the crabs really have to work to get the meat off. You can use most any bait but most recreational crabbers like to use chicken.
Attach the Bait Bag
Attach the bait bag to the bottom of your ring net with the strings on the bag, fishing line, safety pins, or whatever you feel confident using. But make sure that it is secure or else you will lose your bait, your bag, and any crab you may have caught!
Choose Your Location
If you wanted to find a lion would you go to Antarctica, or Africa? The same holds true for Crabs, they have a habitat that will increase your odds of finding them. Crabs love rocks, and crabs also love cover that will help protect them from predators. I always try rocky areas first because these tend to be the best spots to find your crab.
Lower the Net
Lower the net very slowly as to not disturb the bottom or startle anything that my already be down there. Once completely lowered, tie your rope off and wait. I always like to do normal fishing while waiting. No reason to be idle, I want to put food on the table! But feel free to turn on the radio, enjoy a cool beverage and about every ten minutes pull the net up to see if any crab are enjoying the meal you placed. If you're in shallow water or clear water then you can simply watch the net and wait, but I don't ever seem to have that luxury.
What's Happening Under Water?
Once you have lowered your crab net there are a lot of things happening underwater, but what you want to happen I'll outline. Your crab net will be laying flat on the bottom of the sea floor and the scent of the bait will eventually reach the crabs. The unknowing crabs will simply walk up to your bait bag and begin nibbling. Luckily, crabs are content feeding in one spot so you don't have to worry about them taking a nibble and walking away. Once this occurs you simply begin pulling the nylon rope up which raises the "walls" of the basket so the crab cannot escape and pull him up. Be sure that you pull the rope up at a brisk pace to keep the crabs stuck at the bottom of the net. Enjoy your new hobby!