5 tips for crabbing with a hand line

5 tips for crabbing with a hand line

Choose the right clothes

 Wear tennis shoes or boating shoes, rather than flip flops or going barefoot. Clothes will likely get muddy, you may wish to take that into consideration while selecting your choice of clothing for this trip.

Be Prepared

Pick up chicken necks or backs at any grocery or bait store, a line for each person, at least one net that may be shared, a measuring tool, and a crab cage or bushel basket (the crabs will stay alive in the water while you continue to have fun) and a styrofoam cooler, from the local convenience store.

Pick a great place

Take route 90 West (62nd street bridge in Ocean City). After crossing the first bridge take the right at the light between the two bridges for the closest location. Approximately a quarter mile down the road you will see a causeway. Be cautious where you pull over if you are not in a four wheel vehicle.  There are many “safe” spots to park on the side of the road but there are a few soft spots as well that could cause your vehicle to bog down in the mud.

Assateague National seashore is also a wonderful location (the rangers are usually present to help with guidance), but is a little farther away.  Assateague is approximately 12-15 miles from Ocean City.  Take Route 50 West approximately 1/2 mile to Route 611, take 611 South to Assateague Island.

Be Patient and follow the laws 

Marsh mud is slippery so be careful when you step near the water. Tie the chicken part to the end of the string and drop the end with the chicken into the water while holding the other end of the line. When a crab takes the bait you will feel the tug on the line.  Pull the string up slowly until you are certain there is a crab on your line.  Use the net to scoop up the prize and  place them in the holding cage/basket in the water.  There is a limit to the number of crabs you may catch at one time on a hand line; two dozen for male crabs and one dozen for females, and no smaller than five inches, point to point.

Leave only your footprints

At the end of the day pull the holding cage out and put the crabs on ice as soon as possible.   Also remember to clean up after yourself.  Do not leave bottles, cans or any type of trash behind.  Most importantly do not leave your strings or trash behind.  Use the trash bag to contain all the trash from the day until you reach an acceptable trash container to dispose of these items.  Especially remember plastics kills wildlife and aquatic organisms.

Keep the crabs in refrigeration or on ice until ready to cook.  It is not recommended that you cook or consume a crab that is no longer alive.

Even if you are not successful in your attempts and find the need to purchase dinner on your way home, you have created a special memory for your family that will last a lifetime.

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