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The How to's of Chesapeake Bay Crabbing

Posted by Schaefer's Canal House on 12/31/2014 to Restaurant

To catch a crab, all you need to do is drop the line into the water and raise it every few minutes or when you feel a tug on it. Then scoop up any crabs with the net. A baited basket can also be dropped off a boat or pier. Crabbing can't be done easily from the shore because the crab will fall off the line when the line is pulled sideways, according to Bay native George Klein.

Hard-shell keepers will have a "rusty" or dirty looking bottom, according to Judy Colbert, Crofton resident and author of the cookbook "Chesapeake Bay Crabs." Crabs with clean, shiny undersides have recently molted and haven't grown into their new shell, she advises. They may look big on the outside, but the amount of meat will be disappointing.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, recreational crabbers do not need a license to crab with hand lines and dip nets. Property owners may set two crab pots per privately owned pier on their property. The limit is two-dozen hard crabs or 12 soft crabs per person per day.

A license is required for crabbing with trotlines, crab traps (baskets) or eel pots. Crab season runs April 1 to Dec. 15 and size restrictions apply. It is illegal to harvest female crabs according to the DNR's website. See www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/regulations/regindex.asp?page=bluecrab

Once a crab is caught, quickly transfer it to a bucket with a lid. Once you are done crabbing, you can cover the crabs with a damp cloth to keep them from climbing out when you open the bucket.

Necessary Crabbing Gear

String or crab pot/basket.

Long-handled dip net.

Padded work gloves because you'll need to give your catch a quick inspection.

Ruler for measuring crabs.

Bucket with lid.

A damp hand towel to cover the crabs to keep them in the bucket.

Closed-toe shoes, especially for youngsters.

Bait. Klein swears by using chicken necks, but Boone also recommends bull lip and cow tongue. Others use either chicken necks or salted eel. "A crab will eat just about anything," Klein says.

Crabbing in Chesapeake Bay is great fun and an experience to be remembered. Remember to drop by Schaeferís if you donít have any luck that particular day. We have a wonderful variety of seafood dishes including blue crab delicacies. If you are boating, you may need to gas up or stock up on gear at our marina. Also, if you just to chill with a cold beverage, you can relax in our bar or out on the deck for great views of the Chesapeake. Good luck with your crabbing expeditions and hope to see you drop by soon!

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