How to Catch Maryland Blue Crabs

There are many bodies of water that surround the state of Maryland and they are abundant with blue crabs. With so many ways to enjoy the delicious meat of the crab from crabcakes to simply cracking open the shell and dunking the meat in some freshly melted butter, it is no wonder that it has become a Maryland delicacy and favorite.

Here are some of the best crab-catching techniques for going crabbing on your own.

Using collapsible traps to catch blue crabsHow to Catch Maryland Blue Crabs

Be it standing at the end of a dock or from a boat using a collapsible trap consists of a trap that is forced closed when you pull up the attached line. You can use a variation of a collapsible trap with a ring trap. This type of trap lays flat on the bottom and does not collapse so that you can pull up the trap a little bit more quickly from the water.

If you become quite good at this method you can challenge yourself to pick up the crabs when they are scurrying out of the trap. The best way to do this is to use a wire net. An easy bait that is good to use in this type of trap is chicken, preferably the necks, they are inexpensive and are easily found at most grocery stores in Maryland.

Another preferred bait choice for collapsible traps is fish shells. You can use these either frozen or fresh and can buy them from local bait shops in the area. Sometimes you can purchase them from fisheries. You can also ask local fishermen coming in from a day's catch if you can have their scraps.

If you plan to use a trap from a dock make sure that you bait the trap and then let it soak for 3 to 10 minutes, pull the line up fast and see if you have caught anything. Once you have caught your crab, have a bait bucket to keep them in and store them in a cool place until you’re done crabbing. Do not fill a bucket with water as it will drown the crabs.

How to Catch Maryland Blue CrabsUsing crab pots for Maryland blue crabbing

Using a crab pot allows you to catch a larger amount of crabs all at once. Make sure that you are aware of the crab pot regulations before you start crabbing with a crab pot. You can read these regulations by sticking Maryland crabbing regulations into a search engine online.

You can either purchase a crab pot from several stores around Maryland or you can build your own. A large amount of Maryland residents choose to drop their crab pots from private properties and let them soak for days before pulling them up out of the water.

Using a crab pot is pretty basic. You can bait the pot with fish, chicken, or even bull lips. Crabs are bottom-feeding scavengers and will eat just about anything that appeals to their sense of smell. Raw bait is the best for catching crabs.

You want to make sure that you have plenty of line on the trap to allow for the ebb and flow of local tides especially if you are crabbing with a pot off of a floating dock. And just to remind you again, make sure you are within crab pot regulations because the fines in Maryland are steep.

Catching Maryland blue crabs with hand lines

Another common method for crabbing from a dock, but can also be done from a boat or dryland is the use of a hand line. This is the most active and adventurous way to catch a crab in Maryland and it is very fun for crabbing with kids.

Crabbing with a hand line consists of tying a weight and some bait to the bottom of the line and dropping it into the bottom of the water. Then you wait as you hold the line for crabs to come near. You can use any type of hand line from a fishing line to a waxed crab line.

You can find out if your line has snared a crab by tugging on it to see if it feels heavy or an especially active crab will attempt to carry the bait away and you will see the line get tight and tugged completely taught by the crab.

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