|Tips On Successful Crabbing on the West Coast|
Safety on the Water ; Before we get into HOW TO crab fish, maybe we had better talk a bit about safety on the water. Sure I know that most of you may have put lots of time on the water fishing, but this may be your first attempt at crabbing. I recommend that your first attempt at crabbing be during a calm day.
If you are crabbing on a calm day, and you use standard safety precautions, the probability of problems will be diminished. However if the wind picks up and or tide begins to run hard when you intend to do the recovery process, you may need to consider what may happen when you are concentrating on pulling a pot. For one your boat will probably be broadside to the wind/waves as you recover the pot. This may be OK under calm waters, but if you are using s smaller shallower sided boat plus the weight of you/and possibly your helper, plus the weight of pulling a pot, could tend to tip the boat a bit more than you had intended.
Also if using a smaller boat, it is suggested that you pull from amidships instead of the stern because IF situations become bad and the extra weight on one rear corner, this has less floatation capacity which could easily suck that corner under if a wave hit it in a lowered condition, sinking the boat.
Now comes the question, do you have the ability to manually pull a pot or do you need a electric or gas engine powered puller unit? If you are only crabbing in water depths of 50' or less, and have the ability to manually pull the pot, that is what most crabbers do. However if you need to go down to 150' or so and may set out more than one pot, then a mechanical puller may be a worthy investment. Now is your boat large enough to handle the extra weight of a mechanical puller which will be mounted on the side of the boat? The one thing crabbing has over shrimping is that if you manually pull the pot, there is no real need to pull it speedily as any legal sized crab will not escape before you get it up.
Many saltwater salmon/bottomfish fishermen will also drop off a couple of crab pots when they head out in the morning then pull them on the return trip, and if not fishing overly deep, will simply pull the pot by hand. In doing this it is suggested that you have some sort of rub mounting on the outer edge of the gunwale that has a notch in it to keep the rope located and not mar the side of the boat.
Then we need to consider what if you happen to get your prop tangled in a crab pot line. This may not even be your line. If the weather turns nasty and this happens what do you do since this essentially will anchor you AND you now will have the stern into the waves. This needs to be thought out ahead of time. Can you pull the pot and untangle it from your prop without endangering the seaworthiness boat in the process?
The photos below are from shrimping, but the process of pulling the pot is the same. The boat on the left is a 12' Livingston while the one on the right is a 26' Duckworth. Note the belt mounted inflatable life preserver on the fisherman in the small boat.
|Doing it the hard way||An easier method using a Ace Line Hauler|
So Many Different Type of Pots, Which One do I Buy?† Here I am sure that if you talk to 10 different crabbers, you will get many different suggestions. Probably the most important is the ones that catch crab. A very broad subject.
You will find the economy fold up Danielson make, to expensive stainless steel pots. Some will be square, octagon, while others will be round. When baited properly and placed where there are crabs, they all will bring home enough for a crab salad.
One company that builds a variety of crab traps (or pots if you prefer) is Willapa Marine Products Inc. It is important to pick a pot that has a large enough door (preferably on top) to easily remove the crab. Trying to remove a live unwilling crab from the entrance door or just folding one side down does not really cut it when you are trying to remove something that has claws that can badly cut into a finger if you get it in the wrong spot and the crab does not want to be caught.
I have some of each type, but recently I am leaning more to the more inexpensive ones simply because of the crab pot thieves out there. I have had them just steal the crab from a cheap pot, but if they pull your expensive pot, you can be assured that the probability of the crab will not be all they will take with them.
One way to tell if someone has pulled your pots is if you set them out in a specific location by triangulation or GPS and when they come up about 100 yard away from where you left them, someone has probably checked them for you. What they do is pull the float on one side of their boat, pull the line in & throw the float back over the other side. They just keep pulling from one side and throwing on the other. When the pot comes up, they "Borrow" your crab then throw the pot over the other side following the float and line.
If some boater comes close, they just throw the line and everything overboard then motor off. You can not get close enough to them to actually see what they just did, or probably not be able to recognize them or the boat. This 100 yards is about how long it takes them to pull your pot then get it back in if any tide is running.
A 6 3/4" cooked Dungeness Crab
Difference Between Pots & Rings ; Some states may have different requirements for different areas or times of the year. A season may be open for rings longer in some areas than for pots or not open for pots at all.
(1) A pot or trap as it is sometimes
called will (should) continue to catch crab as long as it has bait in the bait
container and still in the water. So they need to be pulled every day or
two. The pot in the photo below is heavier than most & may not need to be
Another pot that I saw at a 2008 Sportsmans show was a round steel one made kind of like 2 large flowers only in reverse, (Daisys come to mind) with one on top and another on the bottom. These are assemble kind of like a reverse clamshell. The pedals of the flowers are a thin metal or plastic springs pointing inward, but a crab can enter anywhere around the perimeter. The top & bottom are 2 separate, but almost identical units. The crab have an easy time getting in, but would have a very hard tome getting out.
|Shown here is a better round pot made with stainless steel wire. The bait cage is in the middle & the lid opens from the left & is held in place by a bungee cord|
(2) A ring on the other hand may just be a large ring with netting (usually Nylon) attached to it, when baited and thrown into a likely spot will also attract crab. Except if the season specifies rings instead of pots, the law says for these, the crab have to be able to have free access to and from the ring while in the water. This changes things immensely. These are normally found by crabbers who crab off docks where they throw then out, wait 20 minutes then pull them back in. Here you will need more bait as the crab will eat it. In practice when you pull the ring in the sides raise a little making a kind of a shallow netted bucket. The crab will usually clamp onto the bait allowing you to pull them in.
One more complicated and effective ring that looks like a pot, has a sliding outer netting that when on the bottom, the ring falls to the ocean floor allowing the crab free movement, when the pot is being pulled this sliding ring and netting is raised crating a trap as it is pulled in. However this is also one that needs to be pulled often as compared to a actual trap.
These rings (shown in the LH photo below) use a 3 line bridle with a small float at the junction and where the float line is attached. This small float is needed to raise the lines so the crab will be under the lines when you pull the pot, otherwise you may flip any crab off if they are above these 3 lines. Shown in the RH photo below is a folding pot. This one is small, 10" across and 6" high, and probably being designed to be used off a dock.
|Shown here is a ring. The smaller ring is the bottom||Here is fold up style|
There are more than one ways of rigging up a bridle on a new pot, You will see two, three, or four bridle ropes to the attaching eye. All work, but the theory of using just two and not being centrally located, but offset to one side, is done so that when the pot hits the bottom, it does so that it will always be right side UP, otherwise the doors will be open and the crab can enter or leave with you not knowing if there was ever any there other than the bait gone. The ring style above may be an exception to this.
Costs ;† Rigging up from scratch for crabbing can be anywhere from economical to expensive. You may not be able to purchase a complete fishable set at all stores, but will have to put together your own usable crab capturing system. Or purchase used gear, however inspect it carefully, as unless it is made of stainless steel it will RUST, which is fine to season the steel, but not to the point that it is falling apart. Many times you can purchase a used crab pot and float for $10 at a yard sale.
Improvements ;† The square economy fold up pots like the Danielson, shown below (and possibly others also) will usually need modifications to make them function best. These doors do have a stop so they can not swing out, but they can swing swing inward with just a small current.† Crab can get out because every time the door opens to let in a crab if there is a current, it creates a doorway for the ones inside to leave if they decide to.† To modify these, you can attach a length (12"-14") of 3/16" pencil lead on each side door near the bottom. Just wrap it around the center mesh bar and they (the door) wonít swing open in the current. The extra weight†doesnít seem† to matter at all to the crabs when they enter. They usually do not need to be crimped in place because of the soft formable lead shape.
Another thing that I have found that make sure that the upper hook end of these crab entry doors needs to be turned so the short looped end that is crimped over the bar above, is placed so that these ends are pointing on the outside of the pot. Then when they are bent over to be retianed and make the pivoting entry door, that the door closes more closely to the rest of the bars and more securely.
In the photo below on the left, this Danielson pot has been further modified by cutting out part of the top center, allowing a plastic mesh bait container to be crimped in place using "Hog Rings" and a lid again using the same type rings. The clean out door on the left was also made from that part of the top being cut out then welded onto a 1/8" wire frame that again is held in place by Hog Rings for a hinge. A bungee cord is attached to one side with the hook crimped so it will not come off, with the other end going across both doors then into the outer edge.
With this new top unloading door, and the shallower pot below, I can insert a couple 50' pot lines along with the 2nd float inside, even load the bait before leaving the dock, removing clutter on the deck.
If you look close, you can also see the 3 /16" lead wire wrapped onto the crab entrance doors.
On the right photo below, a 3" section of wire was cut out horizontally and then welded back together creating a shallower pot. A Scotty screw on lid bait container was zip tied to the lid and (4) 4 1/2# lead crab pot weights were also zip tied to the bottom making this pot weigh in at 23#.
|Here a modified Danielson recreational crab pot is shown. These modifications greatly help load & unload it.||Here again on a Danielson pot, the upper 3" were removed & then welded back creating a shallower pot. Notice that these older pots are using poly rope, which floats, so also notice the lead clamp-on weight shown, as required by WDFW|
As of 2011, Danielson now is making replacement Ultra Violet or Glo in the dark crab entry doors and bait containers as a retrofit to the old pots. I am not sure whether this works to get you more crab, you will have to do your own experiment, but at least they have a good sales pitch.
Weight the Pot ;† You will also notice two old cast iron window weights wired into the bottom in a location to not hinder the crab entrance doors from swinging freely. This is for added weight. Also 4 to 5# lead diving weights work just right as they have 2 slots for belt loops, which can be used to fasten the weights to the pot bottom. There are actual lead crab pot weights that are about 4 1/2" square and 1 1/4" thick that weigh about 4#, which can be secured using zip tie tapes through the holes. You can stack these weights to achieve more total weight. One well known pot manufacturer on Hood Canal has come up with a total weight of 32# being ideal so that when using double buoys, he has never had a pot move. However my pots weigh in from 18# to 23# and I have never had a problem, but I do not crab the high runoff tides either.
The Better Ones ; † The better ones will have multiple entry runways that are raised up off the floor a few inches. These are not affected by current as bad and they make the crab climb up to exit when other crabs are entering.† And they will have a top door for removing the crab.
Season Your Pots ; † Some pots are rubber coated. This may be to help protect the metal to some degree, but think about your old chemistry class a bit. When you put a metal object in a liquid you get a small voltage. If this pot is steel frame and the wire is stainless steel wire, when you put it into saltwater, you have actually created a battery. This voltage may well be a detriment to your crabbing activities. The commercial ports all have a zinc anode attached to them to elevate this problem. Now if you do put a steel or cast iron weight in the bottom of the pot, but let it set out and then rust. You may also consider placing an old zinc anode off your boat or motor on the pot's metal weight. If the right combination of metals, there can be electrolysis, which is in reality a small electrical charge that may repel the crabs.
Along these same lines about all the pots need more weight in them to be effective and from not having a fast moving tide move your pot even many miles. A steel bar about 1/2" X 3" X 22" is about right on both sides. A cast iron window weight secured with old baling wire to bottom inside pot works fine. One on each side is OK. Sometimes you can get a large stack at a garage sale for a few bucks. Now when you weight the pot, it will usually be with new steel. Set the pot out in the rain for a few months to allow the steel to rust. Less new metal exposed & the rust is more conducive to what crab may encounter on the ocean floor.
The pots shown above were left outside to rust for over a year, sure the coating may have deteriorated somewhat, but there is now enough rust that there is no new dissimilar metal galvanic action possibly repelling the crab. This is an old rusting pot that the plastic coating is falling off in places. It still catches crab and is not something that most crab pot thieves really want.
Escape Hole ; Escape holes are required so that if the pot is lost, that it will not "keep fishing". Some holes are round rings, in the upper part of the pots held in place by rot cords, while others use a cotton cord to close a large hole. The theory is that the cord will rot if the pot is not recovered, allowing the crab to escape. The problem is that it seems that there is really no tested and proven cord deterioration certification and the pot manufacturers apparently are simply using a cotton cord that may take considerable time to deteriorate if left in the water. On all of the new boughten pots, you would be wise to remove the rot cord and replace it with about 3 strands of good MOP head cord. This will deteriorate in about a week.
One of our PSA fishing club members related that a few years ago he lost 2 crab pots in the Port Townsend area. He assumed that thieves were at work. A few weeks later the WDFW from Sequim contacted him saying they had recovered his "FISHING" pots during a closed season. The reason they were "FISHING" was the the rot cord had not rotted away and the season in that area of the section of Puget Sound had closed by then. He could however get his pots back if he paid a fine of $100. OK, he sent in his money and got his pots back.
Then 5 years later after attending a WDFW hunter education class with his grandson, he decided he would like to volunteer as a instructor. He filled out an application and a few weeks later got a letter from WDFW saying, "Thank you but No Thank you" as it appears he had a gross misdemeanor fishing violation on his records. No, Never, so he called WDFW asking them to explain. It seems that since he paid the fine for his lost "fishing" pots that he had unknowingly admitted to the violation.
He was informed that IF he had reported his pots missing to WDFW, that this violation would not have happened. So now he has to go to court in the jurisdiction the pots were recovered in, pay another fee to get his violation expunged so he can reapply for being a hunter education instructor.
Have we learned something here??? I sure did.
Zinc Anode ; † If you look at any commercial crab pot, they will have a zinc anode attached to the metal frame. If you remember your of High School chemistry that immersing 2 dissimilar metals into a conductor, (salt in this case) you create a galvanic action. This is also true with a crab pot if you are using lead weighted doors or have a small commercial type pot that has a steel frame & stainless mesh. This can also be detected by crab & may repel them, reducing your chances of a potential crab limit.
Weighted Crab Pot Line ;†Washington State law says you will have your line weighted.† The reason is that if it is not, then at a slack tide most nylon/poly/plastic lines will float near your float. †This can cause problems with other boaters getting it around their props.† Some crabbers use the snap on line weights and use them within 20' of the float. In use, throw out your pot, and let out your line, when the pot hits the bottom, snap a weight on then.†
Some simply wrap 1/4" lead fishing sinker wire around the line as shown in the photo below on the right. If you are using a long line, you may have to put another weight on before you get to the float.† One thing I do is to make all my lines in increments of 50 feet, and connect then with a stainless snap.† This way I can adjust how much line I need for each pot in any given water depth. I pull mine by hand, but off a davit so I am pulling DOWN instead of leaning over and pulling UP. And I have found in using the small stainless steel snaps, that they will feed through my puller pulley fine if I watch things.
If I was using a pot puller, the rope then really needs to be continuous.
Or you can purchase a crab pot line that has a lead core, these are usually made in 50' or 100' lengths.
Float/Buoys ;† In Washington, crabbers are all required to use a primary red/white buoy annotated with full name and address (telephone # recommended) but we are allowed to personalize any additional floats/buoys. Usually smaller floats or even other regular large buoys are use as the additional tag buoys, or to personalize your set-up you could even use old duck decoys. Oregon apparently does not have designated colors for personal crab pot floats.
Oversized Float is Bad -- Sometimes ;† If the float is very large and it gets windy, the float can get tossed around in a wind, which can walk a light pot right across the bottom and into deeper water.† It is very possible then that your one large float will then raise the pot off the bottom which then the pot floats away with the tide. Use a float that is the right size for your pot.† However I find that under these conditions, 2 floats tied in tandem about 8 to 10 feet apart do work well and can avoid pot walking. Here I have a extra eye in the line, so I have the option of snapping the 2nd float on or not, depending on the conditions.
In the photo on the left below you will notice a smaller tag float which is a indicator as to which direction the current or tide is running and then gives me a direction to approach the pot when motoring in for a retrieval without the chance of fouling my prop in the upstream line. AND the distance between the two gives me a aiming spot for the boat hook to get under the line to pull things in with. For shallow water, I use the single float system.
In the photo below on the right, you will see a improved float with a PVC center pipe, lead weight on the pipe, and a second float connected with a 10' line. When initially pulling the pot, DO NOT pull it by the PVC upright flag shaft unless you want to break the pipe.
I have 3/16"stainless snaps on the BOTTOM of everything, the coupler line between the floats, the bottom of the main float line, and the bottom of the 50' line. If I need more line I just snap another 50' line onto the existing one. On the line about 8' down is more 1/4" lead fishing sinker wire is wound onto the line to sink any floating line. On the bottom of each line is a stainless steel snap. Tucked into this line at the bottom end is a strip of orange flagging tape which is used simply as an identifier that this end is the bottom.
|Here is my single float with a smaller tag float||Here the second float is 10' from & snapped onto main flagged float & two 50' lines|
You will see floats attached to lines either with the flat end up or down. It seems prudent to use the flat end down, which gives more buoyancy.
Use Flag on Pot ;†You can help locate the pot when returning to it by adding a 3/4" PVC pipe thru the float, attach a stop above and below the float. Let this pipe extend down 16" or so with a 3# weight around it, this makes the float sit upright in the water no matter what lack of current is there. Above the float let the pipe extend 3' up then attach a flag or different colored ribbons to it. This makes finding the pot a lot easier, especially if there is a little chop on the water when you are ready to recover it. You would be surprised that many times you can not spot your pot regular buoy within 100 yards of it.
Use Good Bait ;† Itís true that crabs are bottom scavengers and theyíll eat anything.† Itís also true that, just like most of us, they like some things more than others.† Put your crab pot out amid a bunch of other peopleís†posts and the pot with the best bait wins.†
Tradition says use fish heads, fish guts, etc.† They work, but if you want to catch more crabs use prime stuff.† Albacore and halibut filets are really good.† Sweeten it up with some anchovies (chopped into thirds) and you have prime bait.† One of the best is squid and herring combos (herring also chopped into thirds).† A close second would be clams. Horse clams are great if you break up the shell so the smell exits or use the cleanings of Goeduck you may have dug. Other crabbers who do not have access to Horse or Goeduck clams will freeze the cleanings of razor clams and use that. Another item would be save your mushy salmon herring/anchovy bait, grind it up, and freeze it.
In the photo below, you will see a Scotty bait container filled with a sandwich baggy full of clam cleanings. These, when frozen can then be removed from the baggy and inserted into the container when needed. About three limits of large clam trimmings will fill the baggy (as seen below) to just under the container size for two containers.
One bait that also does work well is salmon bellies. I save the fatty belly meat off salmon then vacuum pack them for crab bait. It is also good for halibut and sturgeon bait. I cut these in strips off the filleted salmon. They contain a lot of fat, which puts off a good scented bait for lots of different type of species that I fish for.
Another are chicken backs, these usually have a lot of fat on them that adds to a scent trail. Or canned cat food works.
Or you can try is to put some Smelly Jelly, or other scent on your bait box. Smell Jelly makes a crab bait scent. Or you could use Alaskan fish fertalizer liberally put into foam.
One of our club members has put a product to the test and it appears to come out the winner. This company grinds up fish carcasses, palletizes and freezes them for crab bait.
Also if you pull your pot and there is a large female in it, do not cull her out or throw over the side. Leave her in as an attractant.
Some even say to add a calumine light in the pot if you are crabbing deep, sounds fine to me.
Use a Bait Container ;† †Use the containers with holes that are made for especially for pots, and suspend one from the top of the pot.† Donít put the bait on the bottom of the pot, the sand and silt collects in it and the first couple of crabs can eat it or move it around and out of the pot.† There is one bait container that is basically a rubber 1/4" mesh mesh bag with a snap on the top, however crabs will ruin it getting to the bait. The bait just doesnít work as well when just wired into the bottom of the pot it needs to be elevated.† When using a container, you should fill the container about two thirds full.† Leave room for a little water circulation to spread the scent over a large an area as you can.
|Here is a Scotty crab/shrimp bait container that has a screw on lid & multiple slots on all sides to contain the bait but allow the scent out.|
Put a Noise in the Pot ;† Here is a trick that was passed on by a RV park owner at Westport. Take an empty soda can and put a couple of small rocks in it, punch a hole in it so you can tie it inside the pot. It is supposed to make a rattling noise that nearly duplicates the noise of crab eating and is supposed to attract crab thinking their buddies are feasting. After viewing an underwater video of a crab pot in action, yes the noise the crabs seemed to be making sounded very similar to a rock rattling in a soda can.
Crab Limits, Size & Seasons ;†You will have to do your homework for this one, some areas have different minimum size limits. Purchase a plastic crab gage that are made the shape of a crab's shell and have extensions off the bottom giving different measurements. The measurement is INSIDE the shell's extreme tips or horns. It is also your responsibility to know the law as to limit numbers and days of the week that the season may be open in the area where you are crabbing.
|Here is a large legal uncooked crab being measured|
|Here is a monster Dungeness Crab|
Also it is illegal to retain "Softshell Crab". This is not a different specie, but a regular crab that has shedded it's shell, allowing it to grow a new larger shell. CLICK HERE for WDFW softshell identification. These crab shells will be soft when tested with thumb pressure. Even if they were not illegal to retain, the meat has shrunk by about 1/2 and in most situations is not in the best of condition, rather bland and stringy.
Crab Sex ;†No this is not crab porn. About all areas only allow male Dungeness crabs to be retained. Some areas will allow you to retain either sex red Rockcrab.
|Male cooked Dungeness crab, note the narrow rear abdomen cover||Female Dungeness crab found dead on beach, hence the faded color, note wider abdomen cover|
|Here is a female crab laden with eggs|
Tides Make a Difference ;† If you have a high run off (difference between a low and high tide) the water is really moving and the crab will dig into the mud or sand to hide. You better crabbing tides will be with a minimal run off, as the crab will be moving more at this time.
Water Depth ;† This will vary on where you are crabbing. If you are crabbing in the coastal bays, water depth may be 15 to 50 feet. If in the coastal Ocean, you may want to be outside the breakers enough to not drag the pots and 50 to 80 feet would be sufficient. However if you are crabbing in the sound, you very likely will have to drop them in 120 to 170 feet of water.
You will need a depth-finder in most instances unless you have a LONG line. You need to know the water depth and the length of your line. Some crabbers if they normally fish deep may have 200' of line. Others will have theirs in 50' increments with snaps on each to extend that capability. Do not put 100' of line in a 90' depth otherwise you may never see the pot again.
Crabs Move and So Should You ;† †Crabs do migrate around trying to find food, and the hot spot yesterday may be dead tomorrow.† Donít continue to put your pots in the same place, move around.† And if a spot is not hot, come back to it in a couple of weeks later to see if it has picked up. If you are in a bay where the water moves in and out with the tide, the crab will do the same, so pick a spot where you will intercept them on their return at a high tide.
One successful crabber likes to place his pots in any slight depression in the bottom. Do not drop them in a rocky bottom if you intend to catch Dungeness crab, as you will mainly get Rock crab.
Mark Your Pot Location ;† Your best method of being able to find your pot when you return is to mark it as a waypoint on your GPS. Sure you know that you dropped it off in a certain triangulation location and water depth, BUT ???
Put Out Pots in a Straight Line ;† If you are putting more than one pot out, donít put your pots any old way.† If a storm comes through or thereís a big swell and you canít find them.† Take a reading on your GPS when you throw out your first one, then follow a compass heading to dump the other pots in a straight line.† They should be about 100 yards apart, or a little more.† When you dump out your last pot, take another GPS reading.† Now you can find all of your pots by just following the line you took laying them out.
If you have good bait, place your pots at least 100 yards apart, otherwise they will be competing with each other.
Pot Pulling†; As mentioned at the start of this article, pulling could be the old "By Hand" or a power driven unit off a davit. If you decide you really like crab and live in an area where you can get out frequently, possibly a gas or electric driven pot puller would be a good investment, especially if you drop them in water over 100 feet.
|Here is a catch that every crabber is hoping for|
Crab Thieves†; This can get bad in some areas. They usually do not steal your pot, but will pull your pot and take the legal crabs inside. If you are observant, you may be able to detect this has happened if the buoy is not where you knew it should have been. Most crabbers will drop their pots off on the way out to do a day of fishing. This leaves the thieves time alone with your pots. Their method of operation is to motor up to the buoy, pull it aboard and throw it over the other side of the boat. They can now keep pulling the line and letting the excess go over the other side. When they get to the pot, pull it in, rob the crab and throw it over the side following the line. This is quick and easy for them and if a boat comes close before they get the pot up, they throw the line over the stern and motor off. If there is any current, this will usually move your pot about 300'.
One method of detouring this theft is to use the bright colored plastic ZIP ties and tie everything on your pot that would allow them a speedy access to the inside of your pot. The thieves do not want to spend much time (as they would rather you thought that this particular day was not a good crab catching day). But with the zip ties in place they will usually simply throw the pot back in without getting inside as if they clipped the ties, you would know someone had been there and robbed the pot. I use the bright colored ties here and be sure you do so in a way that it does not pull the side down enough to disengage that sides hook effect on the rest of the pot.
I also have heard of another method of the owner taking a sheet of stainless steel and etching on it the image of a hunting rifle scope crosshairs and attaching it to the top of the pot, which may make them a bit nervous when they saw that.
Up Close & Personal; Tip, IF you do get into a situation where you a crab gets you by the pincers, you will not be able to pry it's claw open as they have tremendous clamping power. However you just may be able to twist the movable part of the claw SIDEWAYS and break off if you exert enough force, but it may be best to twist the whole leg enough and pull it out of the body. And at this point you just may have the extra motivation.
Be Observant ;† When dropping off a pot, check area and the tide first.† If you drop off a pot in an area of no current at LOW† SLACK tide, and do not allow a extra long amount of line, you can come back at a higher tide and the water is really ripping, and your pot float will not be in sight.† When this first happened to me I was sure some no-good, dirty rotten, pot snatching, SOB had done his job.† No, I finally figured out it was just me, and not being observant where I placed the pot.† I came back the next week-end at a lower tide and recovered the pot.† They say that good judgment comes from the experience and that comes from bad judgment.
Ocean Crabbing ;† Remember when crabbing the ocean you will normally be running out of a river mouth and crossing a bar into the ocean. You DO NOT want to drop your pots in a normal boat travel lane. So you will be better off to move away from the river channel, or run off a beach where you want to be in at least 65 or 70 feet of water if you return in adverse conditions you want your pots not in the surf and can be picked up without danger. Be sure to use bait boxes and not just tie a fish carcass inside the pot to keep them fishing all day.
Donít Throw Your Old Bait Overboard ;† Pretty dumb to throw the old bait into an area where you are putting your pots right back into.† Now you are not only competing with the other pots, and your own discarded old bait.
Cooking Your Crab ;†You will need some metal container, stainless steel or granite coated (not galvanized) large enough to submerge the crab you intend to cook. I have even seen an old beer keg being used. And a fire source, even a bonfire will do, but most crabbers now days use a propane cooker unit.
It is best to use sea water or at least fresh water that you have added salt to. Some also like their crab a little saltier, so you can experiment. I also like to add seasoning. There are commercial crab/lobster boiling seasoning packages. However I have found that if you purchase dill pickles in 1 gallon bulk jars, just save the juice & add about it at a ratio of 50% to the salt water.
Some crabbers cook their crab whole, but I like to remove the backs and clean out the lungs, intestines etc. with pressurized water before I cook them. I find the meat has a better taste.
When the water gets up to boiling, dump your crab into this water, the water may cool down a bit before it gets back up to boiling, then cook the crab in the boiling water for from 8 to 10 minutes. Uncooked Dungeness crab shell will be be a purplish brown color, during cooking they will turn to a redish-orange color after being in the boiling water for about 4 minutes. The leg meat will usually be done at this time, but not the body meat.
When you remove the crab from the boiling water, immediately immerse them in cold water.
Cracking crab can be accomplished by using crab pliers for the heavy legs, or by simply laying the leg on the edge of a table then hitting it with your fist. The outer tip of the secondary claws can be used to dig the meat out of the rest of the claw bodies. Lately I have been introduced to "shaking crab" to remove the meat, which is a lot better. (more on that later)
For eating, most people prefer a tangy cocktail sauce made of a ketchup base. However I have found that ordinary ketchup with a MINIMAL amount of Worcestershire sauce is a good substitute for the real thing. When using the word MINIMAL, I mean like about 4 drops to a 2 tablespoons of ketchup.
|Two limits with 5 over 8", great eating|
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