What Is Crabbing? A Beginner’s Guide

How to Start Crabbing Off Your Boat

Crabbing, as you might have guessed by the name, is the practice of catching crabs, often with traps or nets. You can catch crabs to sell them, and even earn a living this way, or you could go crabbing simply for pleasure. You can go crabbing off a boat or off a pier. And you can approach this activity in countless different ways.

So, what should beginners know about crabbing to get started?

What Beginners Should Know Before Pursuing Crabbing

Before you start getting too deep into research about how to practice crabbing, there are some things you should acknowledge about this activity.

  • Laws and regulations apply. Generally, you won’t need a specific license for recreational crabbing, but if you plan on crabbing commercially, you'll definitely need a license, and in some areas, you may require a standard fishing license. There are different laws and regulations that dictate how you can practice crabbing, and these are going to vary from area to area. In some regions, you may only be able to recreationally crab during certain seasons. In most areas, there are limitations on how many crabs you can catch each day, and there are restrictions on what types of crabs you can catch; for example, in order to preserve local populations, crabbers may be forbidden from catching young crabs or pregnant females. Before recreationally crabbing, do your due diligence to figure out the local regulations that apply to you.
  • Different areas have different types of crab. As you might expect, you can find different types of crabs in different areas. Some crabs are easier to catch, while some crabs are harder to catch, and each one is associated with different culinary applications; some crabs aren't even edible!
  • Crabs will pinch you. Here's a word of warning for anyone who thinks of crabbing as a leisurely and relatively uneventful activity; you are going to get pinched at some point. If a crab does pinch you, it's probably going to hurt, but the pain is tolerable. All you'll need to do is remain calm, grab onto the crab with your other hand, and pull gradually away from your body. The crab will eventually let go. Practicing smarter crab grabs can help prevent the majority of pinching incidents.
  • Certain crabs aren’t edible. As we alluded earlier, some crabs simply aren't edible. You'll need to learn how to identify different species of crab, so you avoid attempting to sell or eat something that could make you sick.
  • Prematurely deceased crabs aren’t edible. It's also important to realise that as a crabber, it's your responsibility to keep your crabs alive before cooking or selling them. If crabs die prematurely, they release a toxin that renders them inedible.

Equipment You’ll Need for Crabbing

If you're going crabbing, you'll need some equipment. There are different approaches to crabbing, including crabbing on a boat and crabbing off the side of a pier, but generally, you'll need the same types of equipment.

  • A boat. If you want to crab on a boat, you'll need a vessel to carry you. The size of the vessel is going to depend on the size of your operation, but many different types of boats lend themselves well to crabbing.
  • A cooler with ice. You'll need to bring along a cooler with plenty of ice; this will provide storage for all your crabs. Ice slows down the metabolism of crabs, so they live longer.
  • A chair. Crabbing is a game of patience, so you'll need a chair to remain comfortable while you wait for your trap to be filled.
  • A crab trap and bait. Most commonly, people use traps and bait to catch crabs. You can sink your trap to the bottom of the water, use bait with a bait box to lure crabs in, then pull up the trap when you suspect it's full.
  • A net. If you’re using a hand line, you'll also need a net to catch and pull in crabs.
  • A knife. You'll need a knife to take care of a variety of miscellaneous crabbing tasks.
  • Thick gloves. If you plan on crabbing regularly, it's a good investment to secure a set of thick gloves. This will make handling the crabs easier and prevent injuries from pinching.
  • A hydraulic or electric puller. Pulling up a crab trap takes a lot of energy and will sap your stamina. It may be prudent to purchase a hydraulic or electric puller.

Types of Crab Worth Considering

Different types of crabs live in different areas. According to Discover Boating, some of the most common types of crab to go crabbing for in the USA include:

  • Blue Crab: Florida, Delaware, Maryland, Eastern Virginia
  • Blue King Crab: Alaska
  • Box Crab: Washington
  • Dungeness Crab: Washington, Oregon, California
  • Golden King Crab: Alaska
  • Jonah Crab: Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts
  • Red King Crab: Alaska
  • Red Rock Crab: Washington, Oregon, Northern California
  • Rock Crab: Maine
  • Snow Crab: Alaska, Maine
  • Stone Crab: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida

How to Become a More Successful Crabber

These are some of the most important steps to take if you want to be a more successful crabber:

  • Shadow the pros. If possible, spend some time with people who have lots of experience with crabbing. The pros will show you the ropes, help you avoid mistakes, and point out anything you're doing wrong.
  • Network. The more people you talk to about crabbing, the more you'll learn. Spend some time networking around popular crabbing sites – and be open to learning from everyone.
  • Invest in your equipment. Crabbing equipment isn't particularly expensive, so make sure you invest in your tools.
  • Experiment. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and locations! It’s the best way to optimise your crabbing efforts.

Are you ready to shop for your next crabbing vessel? You've come to the right place. We have thousands of new and used boats for sale all over the United States and Europe – so what are you waiting for? Browse our vast selection today!

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