Crab Tips - Tips for Crabbing
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How to Crab - Method to Picking up traps

I want to talk about how to crab and the method to picking up your crab traps, or as I like to call it, the flow of the catch. This is a crucial step in getting your bushel baskets full. I'm going to give you some helpful tips on dropping and picking up your crab traps.

It's good to have your traps baited the night before you plan on going out crabbing. If you have extra hands on the boat, you could have someone bait the traps as you are heading to your hot spot. Once you arrive to the spot where you are going to crab, start dropping your traps one by one in a straight line while cruising around 6 knots. You want to
keep a decent amount of space between each trap, usually about 3-4 boat lengths depending on the size of your boat. This will give the puller and the captain enough time to pick up the trap, dump the crabs, drop the trap, and get on the next trap. Once all your crab traps are in the water, let them sit for a few minutes (or as I like to say, marinate) and slowly make your way back to the first one you dropped.

Now, everyone has their own system on how to crab, however, here is the system that has worked best for me. Pickup, dump, drop... Pickup, dump, drop and repeat. During this process, the captain should be steady at idle speed or a little over the entire time the crab traps are being pulled. That means no stopping unless there is a problem. The puller should be pulling up the crab trap, dumping the crabs, and dropping the trap back in the water. Keep in mind that the crab trap does not need to go back in the water in the exact same spot it was in, a little further down stream will not make a difference. Here are the guidelines to keeping up with the flow of the catch:

       If you pull up a trap and there is not a crab in there, drop the trap right back in the water. Move along steady to the next trap.
       If there is a crab in the trap that is definitely too small to keep, drop the trap right back in the water. Don't worry about getting the small crab out of the trap. Either the small crab will get spooked and swim away or he will get back on the bait and possibly attract other crabs.
       If there is a crab that looks close to the legal size, dump the crab in a temporary hold container other than your bushel basket. You can measure these crabs after picking up all the traps in your line. I normally use a milk crate in this situation to hold the "maybe" crabs. The same milk crate used to carry my topless crab traps.
       If you bring up larger crabs that are definitely over the legal limit, dump them directly in the bushel basket, drop the trap back in the water and move on to the next trap.

The main point here is to keep the boat moving, and keep picking up traps. If you bring up a trap that is tangled or needs fixing, bring it aboard and worry about fixing it later. At the end of each run, measure your "maybe" crabs that are in your milk crate, dump the crabs that are under the limit, fix or bait traps that are in the boat, assess your catch, and repeat your run.

Another good tip is to keep a telescoping boat hook within reach when picking up your traps in rough water. That way if the captain cannot get you right on the trap, you can quickly reach out and grab the line with the boat hook. Click here to check out the one I use.


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