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Author Topic: Getting serious about crabbing  (Read 3434 times)
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stinky bait
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« on: April 19, 2011, 07:53:29 PM »

I have been crabbing, off and om, since i was a child.  im almost 40 now.  in the last three years, my wife and i have been out maybe half a dozen times.  as a kid, my dad took me out in the bay, with some neighborhood kids.  we made a day of it.  came home with maybe 20 -25.  recently, as an adult, my wife and i have pulled maybe 30 keepers at best.  we have been going to dividing creek.

i have been reading these posts, and thats why i started going to the creek insted of the bay.

i watch deadliest catch.  i made a string of bait last year and put a dozen sinkers with empty water bottles on as bouys, and set them out like pots up a stretch of creek.  i lost them all.  i bought cage traps and basket traps, and have never caught a crab with either.  olnly have success with hand lines. 

i use chicken quarter legs that sit out for a day, and tie on to the drumsticks.  used bunker, but perfer the chicken.

what i want to know is...how can i go out for a day, and come home with 50 - 60 keepers.  where do i need to go, what bait do i need to use, what method is best.  i cant bring home 25 crabs and cook them and be full,especially if i have to share with the wife.  and i get called selfish when i limit her to 1 -2 crabs.  i hate having to stop and buy a dozen or so crabs to supplement my catch.  and the store bought ones are always so much bigger. 

so - any tips on how to bring home a full bushel???

thanks
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on the hook
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2011, 08:53:54 PM »

Sounds like your leaving your trap in all day, then checking?? Gotta check em every 15-20 min, maybe 30........This will be adjusted as to how the crabs bite. How did you lose your "trot-lines"?
On the other hand, just tell your wife that there is some disease in the crabs that effects women only. Hope this helps.........
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2011, 09:00:24 PM »

Read youngster... Click on the little crab.  Read this forum and you will catch crabs... But... Ya got crab n crab n crab.. Then you learn what works for u and what dont.. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2011, 09:00:51 PM »

Hi Stinky, I don't know Dividing Creek very well so I will leave it to others to reply. 

You might want to troll through the NJ crab reports & NJ crab resources to see where people caught crabs at what time of year.  You can see when the post was made so that will give you some insight as to when and where they started catching.  Also try searching for Dividing Creek for past tips about locations.

If after 20-30 min you aren't catching or the numbers are low, I move to another spot.  If the crabs are around they will usually bite.  Sometimes you just have to move around to find them.

As for bait, bunker & chicken both work.  Chicken should be raw, fresh and without skin or fat.  Crabs hate skin & fat.  It sounds like you leave your chicken bait our for a day?  I would stop doing that.  Crabs are scavengers and eat rotting fish, etc but rotting in water is much different than left out in the air for a day.

I have no idea why your traps didn't catch.  They should all work pretty well or even better than hand lines.  Do the traps open correctly?  Do you drop them in the water upright so they lay flat & upright on the bottom?  Do they come up with the door lines tangled, or OK?  The 2 ring basket traps have to be pulled up pretty fast & steady so the water pressure keeps the crab from crawling out.  Cage traps- with tops or topless?  With top should trap the crab & you can pull it in easy.  Topless also have to be pulled quick & steady, but not as fast as the baskets traps.

Just trying to get a feel for what is happening.  From your post I don't see where you are doing anything wrong. 
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2011, 09:17:18 PM »


i bought cage traps and basket traps, and have never caught a crab with either. 


Not trying to be a smart [arse], but are you sure your traps are hitting bottom? 
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2011, 10:15:38 PM »

hey,  thanks for the advice.  the traps definatly hit bottom.  and to be honest, we usually pull in a bunch, but so many are smaller than the stick with the red marker, we gotta throw them back.  i think this year i am gonna cut an inch off the end of the paint stirrer they give me at the boat rental dock. 

this year i really wan to be serious.  and i am still want to know, is it better to go in the bay, or in the creeks?
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2011, 11:36:59 PM »

so many are smaller than the stick with the red marker, we gotta throw them back.  i think this year i am gonna cut an inch off the end of the paint stirrer they give me at the boat rental dock. 

is it better to go in the bay, or in the creeks?

Small crabs aren't worth picking.  Too much work for little meat.  Most serious crabbers keep only crabs that are larger than the state legal minimum.  I only keep 5" and up, usually 5.5" and up in NJ. 

I would stick to the creeks.  Plenty of crabs there, just need to find them.
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 02:56:54 AM »

How close to the prospect park exit are you on I-95? If you want to stop around my way one day, I'd be more than happy to look at what equipment you are using and offer some tips up.
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2011, 06:41:55 AM »

hey,  thanks for the advice.  the traps definatly hit bottom.  and to be honest, we usually pull in a bunch, but so many are smaller than the stick with the red marker, we gotta throw them back.  i think this year i am gonna cut an inch off the end of the paint stirrer they give me at the boat rental dock. 

this year i really wan to be serious.  and i am still want to know, is it better to go in the bay, or in the creeks?

The creeks.

What depth have you been crabbing at?
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 09:03:30 AM »

"lost them all"....what ? lost all the traps? all the floats? are you sure you arent pulling the floats under water cause your rope is too short? do you have a ff? how deep are you crabbing ?
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 09:43:13 AM »

The more trips you can make, the more you learn. I know I have had frustration at Dividing Creek at times. I have committed this year to try new places. Most of all, "read the forums here at bluecrab.org". These guys are good and some of the most helpful people you will find. If your real serious you may want to consider a day trip to DE or MD. Another one of my commitments this year. 
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2011, 12:39:42 PM »

If you keep checking the crab forum during the season you will know where the hot spots are. Red bank area was red hot last year. I made about 6 trips to that area with my boat and every trip we had a least 2 bushels. 2 of the trips we had 2 bushels in just 2 hours. But that was last year it may repeat this year but you never know . The hot bait was chicken wings all on hand lines. (all crabs kept were 5 inches or more and no females)
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2011, 01:34:21 PM »

Did you ever stop to ask the boat rental folks about these questions?  They are good folks from what I hear and know DC very well.  They will be able to offer some of the best pointers.
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2011, 05:44:23 PM »

If you keep checking the crab forum during the season you will know where the hot spots are. Red bank area was red hot last year. I made about 6 trips to that area with my boat and every trip we had a least 2 bushels. 2 of the trips we had 2 bushels in just 2 hours. But that was last year it may repeat this year but you never know . The hot bait was chicken wings all on hand lines. (all crabs kept were 5 inches or more and no females)
   How FTROOP there are no crabs in Red bank.. laugh laugh laugh laugh
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2011, 06:49:16 PM »

I am crabbing in about 8 - 10 feet of of water,  but the current at the creek is pretty strong.  thats how i lost the line i rigged up.  the water was rushing so fast, it all just got sucked under, i guess because i didnt have long enough lines.

we did ok at the entranceway to one of the smaller creek branches, but the current kept sucking the boat off, and eventually, we gave up always having to reset ourselves. 

but when the feeding frenzy happens, again its all the small ones.  and when you throw them back, they just keep getting on the bait.  i have to be honest, i just hardly ever see any real big ones.  i mean, we just started calling them veal so we can justify keeping the ones on the borderline of being too small.

and i have never seen a soft shell crab in person.  how do i get my hands on those, i imagine, since you eat the shell and all, its all good.  is there a certian time or place for soft shell crabs.
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« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2011, 08:56:47 PM »

most of the time i buy soft shells from the stores, cause when they shed their shell they will hide because the other crabs will eat them, the only way ive caught them is by scooping the marsh grass with my net, but i got lucky then. you may want to try closer to shore in a little shallower water if the current is bad, or try a different creek or spot. it just takes time to figure it out.
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« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2011, 10:35:03 PM »

believe it or not some of the biggest crabs I've caught in jersey where in less than 2 feet of water.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2011, 10:38:47 AM »

You need to get out of the creek and get to where the crabs are feeding. The fast moving water of the creek pulls scent away fast and the crabs have trouble finding the bait. Find a smaller creek junction or bay off the main stem. You should do much better. I crab the area often and haven't set up in the main ditch for years......

PS if your renting a boat you are limited to where you can go.....................so just keep moving and do your best.

I always double anchor, (bow + stern)  it's a must to stay on the crab and keep from getting drifted away.............
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« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2011, 12:22:13 PM »

If you're renting a boat Dividing Creek is a great place. You're at a little bit of a disadvantage in a rental boat by not having a depth finder but you can still do pretty good. I've found that early in the year the crabs stay a little deeper.  No matter what depth, its been my experience that once you find the depth that works, that's where you want to set.  The current in the creek is brutal when the tides are moving so you want to get out of the current.  Look for a bend in the creek and get behind the bend and out of the flow of the current.  Make sure you have at least a few feet of water.  Take your bow up to the bank and throw your front anchor right onto the bank.  Back up and throw your rear anchor so your boat is making a T with the bank  making sure you stay out of the flow of the current. When I crabbed like that I used 6 to 8 ring traps all around the boat and would use another 4 to 8 hand lines. Chicken or bunker will both work well if the crabs are there. 

If you have your own boat, things in South Jersey really open up for you.  There's a ton of places that you can try and there's always good reports on here.  The best way I've found is using topless traps.  And the best traps come from Capt. Moose http://www.bluecrab.info/forum/index.php/topic,45929.msg423839.html#msg423839 .  Once I started crabbing this way, I never went back to still crabbing.  It's a lot more work but it really produces.  I usually start my day trying a few different depths (i.e. 8-10", 10-12" etc.)  and once I find the most productive depth, I set all my traps at that depth. 

Good Luck!
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« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2011, 12:33:49 PM »

The best way I've found is using topless traps.  And the best traps come from Capt. Moose

Absolutely!!!   thumbsup
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