Blue Crabs Are Emerging

 

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Crabs in the pot this morning .. photo by Connor Fisher

Everyone wants to know when are the crabs going to start moving around.  The back bays and low water tidal areas are seeing crabs emerge from the mud.  That would be the inland bays when I refer tot he back bays.   Blue Claw crab season started on March first for pots, and year round you can use hand lines.  Personally I like to wait for them to at least shed once, but some people like the flavor after along winters nap.  Bunker are moving in the back bays too, and that is the best baits for crabs.  Of course chicken works well, but not as good as a ripe old dead oily fish.  The creel limit on blue crabs is one bushel per person. Hard shell crabs must be a minimum of 5 inches.  Soft shell crab minimum is 3.5 inches, and peeler crabs are 3 inches.   DNREC … “ Recreational crabbers may not use, place, set or tend more than two pots. The person claiming to own the pots must be the one to set and tend them. These pots must be marked with all white buoys with the owner’s full name and permanent mailing address inscribed either on the buoy or on a waterproof tag attached to the buoy. All crab pots must be tended at least once every 72 hours.”   Friend of mine once said … “You get me a soft crab, I will make you a sandwich with legs.”  The crabs that are being caught now are just under the size limit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some keepers to be had.

 

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Blue claw crabs from the pot, all were undersized and returned … Connor Fisher
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The Delaware Bay will start seeing more crabs move around when the water warms up, but looking in tidal creeks during the low tide warmer waters might produce some.  You won’t know unless you try, and we have all summer to crab.  The season ends November 30th for pots and other gears can be used all year such as hand lines, or folding traps.  I am sure many will be running trot lines soon, there isn’t a regulation for length for recreational crabbers.  Don’t forget the turtle guards required on your crab pots.  DNREC … “A turtle by-catch reduction device is required to be attached in each funnel entrance of a recreational crab pot to reduce the possibility of diamondback terrapins entering and drowning. A by-catch reduction device is a rigid rectangular frame of plastic or metal that measures 1.75 inches x 4.75 inches and is available at local tackle shops, or can be hand-made from heavy (>11 gauge) wire or other suitable material. ”  Don’t forget to return sponge crabs to the water, it is illegal to keep them.   The eggs or sponge is orange and very easy to spot.  Mature females or sooks with a U shaped apron may be kept at any size.  These are fully mature crabs.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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