Catching blue crabs is an exciting adventure that the whole family can enjoy. Along the majority of the east coast, blue crabs are plentiful. The delectable treat can be gathered in many ways and, most importantly, without a boat. Your local dock, pier, or bridge can most often do the trick when searching for those tasty crustaceans. 

First, consider all of the safety elements before heading out for your trip. 

Before You Head Out

  • Obtain a fishing license for everyone who is legally responsible by age. This information can be found by searching state-specific fishing license rules. 
  • Check local laws and regulations on size requirements in addition to egg-bearing females before throwing them in your bucket for dinner.
  • The right type of bait is extremely important. Visit your local grocery store for chicken necks. Chicken necks are one of the most effective store bought baits. Wear gloves or wash your hands after handling any raw meat.
  • When you’re headed off on your boat or local dock, be sure to understand the dangers of currents. Tidal flow is extremely strong and can quickly sweep a person away. When crabbing with small children, keep them well away from the edge of the dock or vessel.
Catching a Blue Crab in South Carolina

Three Ways To Catch Blue Crabs

Consider three common ways to catch blue crabs while at a dock or anchored on a boat.

  1. Using a throw line to retrieve a single crab by hand.
  2. Utilizing a drop net
  3. Soaking a crab trap for an extended period of time

When searching for the tasty crustation, understand that water temperature plays an essential factor in your success. Blue crabs are most active between water temperatures of 65-75 degrees, not to say that they are not caught above or below these temperatures. 

Steps To Catch a Blue Crab

  • Visit your local grocery store for chicken necks. Ask the meat department if they are not available on the shelf.
  • Crabs are equipped with sharp pinchers. If a finger is caught between its strong grab, deep cuts can be inflicted. Wearing gloves will assist in both handling the crab and avoiding deep penetrating wounds.
  • Grab your soaking trap, drop net, or handline.
  • Be sure to apply sunscreen; the reflection will quickly result in a burn. 
  • Pack all safety gear such as life jackets.
  • A cooler lined with ice packs is of the utmost importance for storing your fresh catch. 

A key component is patience. While some techniques may notify you of a crab readily knawing at your bait, others will leave you completely unaware they are lurking in your trap.

Now that all of the necessary gear has been gathered head out to your fishing location. Once you arrive, take note of the current direction, which will help you determine where to drop your bait. 

Ideally, it is best to remain out of the current to avoid your trap, line, or drop net from moving in swift water. 

Load up your preferred method of catching with bait; however, properly secure the bait to the trap to avoid losing it when deployed. 

Just as significant is properly attaching the trap line to the vessel or dock. In the blink of an eye, your newly purchased equipment can be lost forever. 

Drop nets and traps must soak on the waterway’s floor for a minimum of thirty minutes for best results in catching crabs. 

Handlines offer a more sporting opportunity. Deploy your bait attached to the end of the line while holding the handle, let the bait sit on the bottom, and wait for a gentle tug. Once you feel a crab chewing at your bait, slowly pull the line back to you. If you have assistance, ask your friend to scoop up behind the crab with a net at the waterline. 

How To Handle, Measure and Store Blue Crabs

As with any method of catching crabs, measuring, handling, and storing them does not vary. 

  • Hold the crab by its back swimming fin, where it connects to the central part of the shell. Although you may feel anxious, when adequately held, the crab is not able to pinch you. 
  • Measure the crab from tip to tip on the carapace. The carapace is the top of the shell, where you will see two long points extruding from both sides. Check your state regulations for size requirements.
  • Keeping your fresh catch alive until you’re ready for dinner is a must. Crabs do not need to be held in saltwater to live. Place the caught crabs in the bottom of a cooler that has been lined with ice packs and layered with a damp cloth. Store the cooler in a shaded area and drain off any access water accumulated at the bottom. 

In most states, a significant amount of blue crabs can be kept per 24 hours. Depending on how much time you have available, it is not uncommon to gather substantial amounts of crustaceans. Catching provides fun-filled entertainment for the family. Enjoying your fresh catch is even more fun. A table lined with steamed crab is hard to resist. Catch them up!