Everyone has seen the joy and wonder on a child’s face after reeling in a fish. Whether it is their first catch, or just the first of the day, it is a site to behold. Now, imagine the look on their face when they pull in their first crab! The Outer Banks is blessed with some of the most bountiful and accessible waterways for crabbing, and it is an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy the day. Plus, you may catch dinner!
Two of the most popular ways of crab fishing are with crab pots, and handlining. A crab pot is a kind of netting that is made with mesh or metal wires. Bait is put all the way in the far end. Bait of choice for crabbing is usually raw chicken or turkey, usually legs or necks. When the crab goes into the crab pot to get the bit, the cone of mesh gets gradually smaller, until the crab can not turn around. This is not a very “hands on” method of crabbing. You throw the pot off of a pier, dock, or even a boat, and come back some time later to check out your catch.
If you are looking for a more interactive method, that is called handlining. Again, from a pier, dock, you would get a decent length of fishing line (25-35 feet should work) and you bait one end of it, by tying it securely around the bait. Next you throw the bait into the water. Leaving some slack on the line, you will be able to see or feel movement when a crab latches on to your bait. By slowly pulling the line in, you will lift the crab closer to the surface of the water, and scoop it up with a net. So singular is the crab’s focus on their meal, they won’t even notice you lifting them.
A few things to keep in mind: The best places for crabbing on the Outer Banks are in the Sound, or one of the many salt water canals. The Currituck Heritage Park in Corolla is a very popular spot, as are the vacation homes that border a saltwater canal, which are branches of the Currituck, Albemarle, Roanoke, or the Pamlico Sound. You would not do very well in the ocean, the water is way too rough. The best time to go crabbing is at the low, or ebb tide point in the day, and you should look for a depth of between 2-5 feet. Also, be sure to investigate if you need a fishing license (http://www.ncwildlife.org/Licensing/Licenses-and-Regulations). Some areas require one for some ages, and some don’t. There is a limit of 50 per person per day, and also size requirements. Do a little research, and head out to the water, and maybe dinner will be on you! Have fun, and enjoy the Outer Banks!