Crab Tips - Tips for Crabbing
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Crabbing Supplies

If you've been out for a day of crabbing, you should have a sense of some of the supplies needed. I'm going to give you a checklist you can use to make sure you have everything you need before going out on the water. Some of the items in this list you may already have, some you may not. I find all the below items essential for making your day out crabbing a successful one.

Crabbing License

- Check your local laws to see if you need a license to crab. Also, check how many crabs you are allowed to keep and the size limits. Some states offer individual as well as boat licenses that cover everyone on board.

Crab Traps

- Bring 30 traps if you live in Maryland, however, check your local laws to see how many traps you are allowed to use as a recreational crabber. There are even certain areas in MD where you have to use less than 30 crab traps. You'll find using topless crab traps will help in many ways.

Milk Crate

- This is used to carry your topless crab traps. Put the crate on the bottom and stack your traps inside. It's durable, waterproof, and makes the traps easy to carry. On the boat you can also use the milk crate as your "holding bin" for the crabs waiting to be measured. Click here to check out the milk crate I use.

Crab Tongs

- Go with plastic or stainless steel tongs so you're not replacing them every year. Remember, do not use the same pair of tongs to handle live and cooked crabs. If you do, wash the tongs after handling the live crabs to avoid contamination.


- Be sure the gloves are made of relatively thick rubber so if you happen to be victim of a claw bite you won't feel it as much. Always pick up a live crab from the base of it's backfin to avoid getting clawed.

Bushel Basket

- I would use a wooden bushel basket, not a plastic one. Crabbers have taken a liking to the orange baskets you normally see at a farm filled with corn or other vegetables. This is a durable basket that seems to be a good alternative for storing crabs, however, it is not a true bushel basket. It may hold more crabs than a bushel and can get you into trouble with local authority. The conventional wooden bushel basket works just as good or even better. Especially for keeping the crabs alive on a sunny day. You can give the entire basket a quick dunk in the water if your crabs are getting too warm and the wood will retain the moisture to keep the crabs in an environment they love - cool and wet.

Burlap Sack

- I found the burlap sack to be an essential item in my crabbing supplies. Especially when crabbing in the summer months when the temperatures are high. The burlap helps to keep a more natural environment for the crabs. A good idea is to soak the burlap in the water where you are crabbing and rest in on top of your bushel baskets. This helps keep the cool and wet environment to assure the crabs are happy and alive. It's no wonder why burlap is used by most commercial crabbers.

Boat Hook

- A floating and telescoping boat hook will help you pick up the traps that are out of your reach on a windy day. You'll want to have this close by in case you need to grab it quick so you are not going in circles trying to pick up a trap. Some crabbers prefer picking up all of their traps this way; however I think it's best to get down there and pick up the crab trap with your hands if it is in reach. I use this one from West Marine.

Crab Measuring Device

- Plastic, metal (Stainless Steel, Aluminum) or wooden. Find one that is cut to your area's size limit requirement. Remember to measure the crab from point to point on its shell. You'll want to use one of the pre-cut measuring devices over any type of ruler. Rulers are difficult to get an accurate reading while on a boat with any kind of wake.

Snoods and Springs

- Along with the snoods and springs you already have in your traps to attach the bait (check the attaching bait section), you'll want to bring some extra in case you need to replace any.

Extra Line

- For any crab trap repairs, you'll want to have some extra line on the boat. Bring with you the thinner line that attaches to the trap doors and some thick line used as the pulling line. It's not a bad idea to have an extra float with you also, just in case.

Bait Bags

- If you are using razor-clams or other cut bait you'll need some mesh bait bags to attach to your traps or trotline.


- If you are using a trotline, there are some additional supplies to bring on board. These include:

     Basket or bucket to store the line
     Dip Net
     Trotline Anchors
     Stainless or brass snaps (2)
     Trotline Arm


Bushel Basket for Crabs
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