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Humane Crabbing


We can all remember Crabbing when we were kids, going to the harbour side and pulling up Crabs? Well it seems that there are enough people who don’t know how to do it properly to warrant a guide being produced and how to Crab but keep the Crabs alive.

I would have thought that a lot of this was just common sense but anyway I guess it’s worth pointing out.

How To Catch Crabs

The modern “fancy” way of doing this is to get some meat (bacon etc) and wrap it in a cloth, anything that allows the crabs to get a grip is best. You then lower this down the Pier/Harbour side into the water until it reaches the bottom, you can either attach your bait to a bit of string or fishing line. It’s always best to go crabbing in places where there is a lot of weed build up. You then watch carefully and feel for any signs of life down at the business end. Once you can see or feel a crap feeding you then start to lift it very slowly. With any luck you’ll pull the crab from the water where you can put it into your waiting bucket.

For us old schoolers the preferred method is to forget about the meat and go for a fish head. Crabs love fish heads and don’t like to give them up so once you’ve got a crab on board you should have no problem landing it. I can understand that it might be a bit squeamish for you city folk 🙂

How To Look After Your Crabs

Crabbing is fun but it’s much more fun if you can return your Crabs alive and in one piece.

  1. Make sure you only put salt water in your bucket, the crabs you pull from the salt water sea are salt water creatures, they don’t do fresh water very well.
  2. Don’t overcrowd, 10 Crabs in a big bucket is plenty, any more than that and they’ll start fighting and literally tearing each other limb from limb.
  3. Look after the girls. Female crabs often carry eggs, if you catch one return it straight away. Female crabs can be identified by the more rounded, broader shape on the underside.
  4. Change the water regularly. Every hour or so give them a top up with fresh water, on the very hottest days it may be best not to keep them out of the water at all. There is no harm in catch and return!

That’s all there is to it. Keep your Crabs happy and make sure they go back alive, that way there will still be some when you get around to bringing your kids crabbing. It’s great fun and possibly one of the best ways of introducing young children to not only fishing but also the world of nature.


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