Mmmmmmm, crabs

My family and I vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina every couple of years.  It’s your typical family vacation with sun, and sand, and a whole lot of doing nothing.  This year, while visiting the pier at Harbor Town, we saw a couple of guys watching a couple of thin ropes trailing down into the water.  When I asked what they were doing they said they were crabbing, and opened a cooler to show me half a dozen or so large blue crabs.  Mind . . .  blown!  You mean I can go out on a public pier and catch my own seafood dinner??? That night I went back to the house and started Googling everything I could find about how to do this.  Turns out it’s really very simple.  In it’s simplest form you simply take some fishing line, cord, or bank line, tie on a piece of chicken or fish, and throw it in the water.  When you feel a tug, you pull the line up and try to get a small net under the crab before he drops off back in the water.  The method we chose is using a two-ring trap like the one shown here.

South Bend Two Ring Wire Crab Net (18-Inch)
This deluxe two ring crab net features long-lasting wire netting and is constructed with corrosion resistant aluminum rings. The top ring measures 18″ and the bottom ring carries a 7″ diameter.

Ours were made with metal hoops, but cord netting.  That became a problem, as the cords kept getting snipped by the crabs’ claws.  Later we upgraded to a metal-net trap as a test and it worked much better (lesson learned for next vacation).  We used some zip ties to secure a piece of chicken neck to the center of the trap, threw the traps in and let them settle to the bottom, and then pulled them up every five to ten minutes.

Based on South Carolina law you can run three of fewer traps without a license. If you want to run more traps, or fish, or use a cast net for shrimp, etc., you’ll need a license. And of course, you always check the regs in the area you’re crabbing to know what’s required.

We were pulling in one to three crabs just about every time we pulled a trap. Unfortunately, we had to throw a lot back, as there is a minimum size requirement of 5″ from point to point in SC. Still, we managed to catch enough crabs to make it worthwhile.

Cleaning, seasoning, boiling, and a little work with a crab hammer, and we were elbow deep in some tasty blue crab. Crabs we caught our self, for almost nothing. That’s what I call self-sufficient.