As a family we go crabbing everywhere we go on holiday! This includes Norfolk, Suffolk, Devon and Wales. Please read on for crabbing care kits – it’s important the crabs are looked after when you catch them.
What you will find on our guide (Tap to get to that section)
Top 5 Crabbing Tips!
1 – Use a net and not a line
There are two types of crabbing setups. One where you need the crabs to hand on and one that is a drop net (See the best one to use here). Drop nets work better but they are not considered as a traditional method. If you have kids it’s all about catching loads and making it easy – a drop net will do this.
IMPORTANT: If you are using a drop net check it thoroughly before you pack up and go. They often catch smaller fish and clear shrimp which are hard to see, it’s important these get safely returned to the water. Usually dropping the net back in the water will be enough to get them to swim off – DO NOT pour them from a bucket from a height.
2 – Use a fishy bait
I see a lot of people using bacon for crabbing but I am convinced fish-based baits catch better – the smellier the better. Try going to local fishmongers and they will have some offcuts that will be perfect for crabbing.
I use as much as I can get in the bait net for maximum attraction. It’s all about getting as many crabs in your spot as possible.
3 – Find the deeper water
This is where you’ll find more crabs! If you arrive before the tide is really up look at the bank below you, carefully if you’re on a quay! Look for the spots that go deeper rather than the hight mud banks and these spots will not only get water in the quick, but they should also hold more crabs.
Spots, where boats have been, will be good spots once the boats have gone. If the boats have been in the mud then they will have left exposed natural food when they lift up in the water.
4 – Look for structures in the water
This comes from my love of fishing – anywhere crabs can hide, like fish, they will. If you cannot find deeper water then look for poles in the water or any other features. On a recent trip, albeit in Suffolk, we found loads of crabs, including some big ones, around a water inlet pipe in the water. It was littered with them. We caught absolutely loads from the spot. We’d been around 10 meters away trying and only caught the odd crab.
5 – Find a good spot before you go
There’s lots of information online about the best crabbing spots where you are. Have a look around and do some research before you go. As a regular visitor to Norfolk, I have put together the best crabbing spots in Norfolk guide.
If you are in Devon or elsewhere look online and see where the best and most popular spots are.
Look after the crabs
One of the most important things is to make sure the crabs are cared for in your bucket.
Here are some key things to remember
- Handling – Pick them up gently, hold them by the shell and pick them up from behind so they don’t pinch you. If you are an adult a pinch from a small blue crab won’t really hurt you. It is important to be confident when picking them up.
- In the bucket – Don’t keep too many in the bucket at once as they will start fighting. They need water and space. Once you have caught 10 reasonably sized crabs, pop them back, refresh your water and catch another 10. You can always keep count of how many you catch and you do not need to keep them all in the same bucket for hours.
- Letting them go – Let them go as close to the water’s edge as you can, don’t leave them to run around and find the water. Slowly let the water out with the crabs in it, ideally into some shallow water. Make sure all the crabs are mentally released into the water. If you’re on a quay get them as close to the water as you safely can before releasing them – or look for so steps down where you can go safely to release them. In this case, let the adults put them back and not the children!
How to crab – A beginners guide
If you’ve never crabbed before then fear not, our guide will have you at an expert level in no time at all!
- Get your bait and equipment ready – Grab a drop net here or simply pick one up from a local shop near where you are going. By some bait too.
- Pick your spot – As mentioned in my crabbing tips, get to your spot nice and early and try and find some deeper water if you can. If not look for any structures in the water that you can get close to without getting stuck – remember the water will move significantly on the tide.
- Bait up – Get your bait out and in the net securely – or you will lose it!
- The drop – Slowly lower the net into the water. Imagine it is a parachute when it hits the water. You need it to be nice and open with the weight pulling down and the bait in the middle. If it gets tangled around the edge you won’t catch anything.
- Leave it – Around 5 minutes is a good starting point, pull the line up to the water level and see if you have anything if you can safely look over the end, if not pull it all the way up. If you have nothing then lower it in and try 10 minutes the next time.
- Look after the crabs – As mentioned in the above section on looking after crabs, take care of them. Don’t get too many in your bucket and safely let them go.
- Finishing up – Once you are pulling the net in for the last time give it a thorough check over and make sure there are no tiny crabs, shrimp or fish in the net.
- Cleaning your equipment – Once back it is well worth giving your net a soak in some water from an outside tap or preferably a water butt. This will get the saltwater off and prolong the life of the net. Make sure you let it dry completely before storing it in a dry bag.
I hope you enjoyed this post and are thinking about going crabbing. It is one of our family’s favourite things to do when we head to Norfolk. You can see my guide to Norfolk lodge breaks here. It’s a great place to go on holiday. We have also done crabbing in Devon and Angelsea. If you’ve never tried, head out and have a go!