Here is my first report of the year. The weather was overcast and cool but the waters were fairly calm and there was little wind. Excellent for trotliners like myself. My bass boat had no leaks, my old 4.5 Merc purred like a kitten and yes Virginia the crabs are there.
I hit the water at 0615 with my 350 ft trotline I got two on the first run, however both were marginal keepers so they went back in. Got my first good keepers on the second run and then decided to move my line a little more into the shallower water, merely on instinct and a hunch. The tide crested at about 8:00 am so I was actually in some pretty shallow water, probably 4-6 ft . The bottom where I was at was aslo very muddy...like gray silt. Just an FYI, but in the location I was at - let's just say it was a river on the east bank of the Chesapeake Bay - there was a lot of seagrass in the deeper areas...why I don't know.
Anyway around 8:30 or so, things started picking up and I was getting as many 4-5 a run with usually 2 or 3 keepers. During this stretch and just about on my last bait, I noticed the line was pulling away from my anchored float. I was hoping it was a big boy and it was and to my surprise it was a doubler. Female could not have been more than 4 inches and of course she went right back into the water. Although the male was not a monster, he was a true black back jimmie and very heavy in the net.
Overall I probably caught nearly half bushel, but I threw back - and I am not exagerrating - nearly 3 dozen marginal and undersize guys, along with one other immature female. I saw nor caught any mature females.
I kept about 2 dozen nice ones for me and missus and man I got to tell you those first steamed crabs of the year were like nectar from the gods! These crabs were not big ( probably 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 inches) but they were packed with meat. No lighties at all.
Oh yeah..the beer tasted pretty good too.
1. About 3/4 of the crabs that I caught were very dark. Several times I thought I had netted some mature females because the tips of their claws were burnt orange in color as they were coming out of the water, much like their undersde. Of course this indicates they are getting close to shedding and we are going to have lot of nice 6-7 inch guys out there pretty soon.
2. The water was cool to the touch and with all of the fresh water that we have been getting, I expected a lot of droppers, but to my amazement only one dropped off a bait before I netted, so I batted about 95%. The point is that these crabs were hungry. My bait was some old chicken necks that I had bought last October and never used last year. The pieces I used were no more than 1" in length.
3. For what it is worth...after about 30 minutes on the water, a commercial crabber came over and we talked some. He said that he had been crabbing in this area for 45 years and it was the worst he had ever done this time of the year.
4. I think things will really pick up now, particularly if we can get some hotter weather and a lot less rain.
Well, it was fun getting out there again and of course more fun when you're catching these beautiful creatures.
Take care and be safe out there.