A Fun Day on the Bay & Easy to Learn
When I was younger, my grandfather introduced me and my younger brother to crabbing. He would drive us to popular piers near the bay in New Jersey to throw his old cage traps out into the water. We would sit there for hours, enjoying some family time and hauling in crabs by the bushel.
At the time, we had little patience as small children often lack the ability to keep their excitement in check. He taught us to wait about fifteen to twenty minutes in between hauls in order to give the crabs a chance to come over and enjoy some chicken meat, my grandfather's favorite type of bait. Finally we learned and to this day we still have loads of fun.
In order to get started with a family crabbing tradition, the first thing to do is buy some cheap traps. There are many local shops or online crabbing stores that offer gear and gadgets for under $15. Bait is extremely cheap as you just need any type of meat really as crabs tend to eat anything. We often just buy some chicken necks or legs and reuse them day after day.
Next, research an area local to you and look for a crabbing pier. Most fishing piers also double as crabbing piers, so a lot of the time they will simply be labeled as a fishing pier. Many states have crabbing locations, from New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon, North Carolina, all the way down to Lousiana. You should have no problem finding a spot should you live near or in any of these states.
Bring the kids! It's amazing how interested and excited children get when the anticipation builds for another crab trap pull. They often completely lack patience at first but they begin to learn that you need to give the traps time to attract some crabs. You can spend an entire day just sitting by the bay, enjoying some refreshments and family time.
Make sure you go out to the pier when the tide is coming in. This helps your chances of success as the water movement helps bring the crabs into the bay. If the tide is going out, the crabs may head out with it, and you don't want that if you're looking for a fun time crabbing!
Spread the traps evenly out across the pier so that you can cover the maximum amount of area. Assign traps to the kids so they get excited and "compete" for the biggest crab. Every once in awhile you will pull up a sea turtle or even an interesting fish such as a puffer that managed to get itself caught in the trap. While your crab traps are deployed, you can also toss out a few fishing lines if you happen to be an avid fan of fishing.
Crabbing has become so ingrained in my family that my mother and father now eat, sleep, and breathe crab! My mom has decorated the entire beach house with blue crab decor and I often find some of the best gifts online to make her smile. My dad has become a real man of the sea and also enjoys a gear upgrade from time to time, so I buy him a brand new trap or gadget for Father's Day or for his birthday. Some day, I hope to earn enough money to buy my own boat for the sole purpose of crabbing. I would love to head out to the bay, relax, and throw out as many crab traps as I can. But to get started, you don't need a boat. Anyone can do it!
Once you catch some crabs, you can also easily learn how to cook them. Some of the best family fun you can have is sitting down at the dinner table to enjoy the crabs you caught that very day. Cleaning or steaming crabs is very accessible to the average cook and instructions and information can be found online rather easily. My grandmother likes to cook them up in her favorite spaghetti sauce, which quickly became a favorite dinner of mine from when I was a young child.
If you are looking to start the next family tradition which is very easy to learn, inexpensive to start, and great for the kids, then take up crabbing. Now that I am older, I have brought family and friends on many a crabbing trip and the amount of joy we find is immense. I can't wait to introduce this tradition to my very own kids some day.
Now, be adventurous and head out to the bay!
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(price as of Sep 15, 2014)