Crabbing is Grabbing on The Fourth
It grabs you and takes you back to those shore days as a youngster either in the lagoon or on a dock, pier or bulkhead, or from a boat.
Or even with a seine net with a buddy in a shallow beat of the bay or tidal creek...as long as you wore old sneakers or other footwear to avoid the inevitable pinch, or worse, claw clamp!
Crabbing is made for The Fourth. The star of the summer show in the blue crab, commonly known as a blueclaw. Crabbing is fun, inexpensive, and can get the entire family involved. Better yet is the feast afterward in any of the myriad ways to cook the sweet white crab meat.
Or, as we’ve witnessed many a time over the many decades, the sheer joy, evinced by the giggles and laughter, of kids who get a charge out of catching a crab, then letting it go to avoid the pot for another day.
Traps and drop lines (aka hand lines) are the most common ways to get some crabs in the bucket or bushel. The latter method requires a long-handled net to scoop the crustacean as it gets to the surface while still holding on to the bait. This is easier said than done, and there are always some groans after a blueclaw, especially a big one, evades the meshes.
Bait? Bunker leads the way, followed by chicken necks or chicken legs, and chunks or strips of bluefish or mackerel. One acquaintance scores good catches with chunks of carp or small, whole suckers. Go figure.
The commercial-style traps which are usually left submerged overnight require a $2 commercial pot license available online at www.njfishandwildlife.com or at a license-issuing agent. It’s good for two such style traps.
Bays, tidal creeks and ditches, and lagoons all host robust populations of blueclaws. If probing the tidal marsh creeks, do not forget the bug spray!
It’s the Fourth of July Weekend...no better way to kick it off than some time with friends and family, with traps out and/or drop lines in hand.
Then the luscious, albeit sometimes messy, evening’s repast!
The daily limit is one bushel. The minimum size point-to-point across the top of the shell (carapace) is 4.5 inches.