Blue crabs have a sweet mild meat, and they're on the tastier side of the crustacean family, not to mention abundant in Florida waters. My father taught me how to catch blue crabs, and I highly recommend it as a fun family activity, especially if you live on the water! What sounds more fun- paying $20 for crab cakes at a restaurant, or spending quality time teaching your kids something new on your own dock? Here’s how to catch these delicious bottom-dwellers:
First off- while blue crab season is usually all-year-round in Florida, in an effort to retrieve lost and abandoned crab traps, there are seasonal closures every other year for 10 days. Currently, blue crab season is closed in Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties, but scheduled to open back up August 20th!
Second, get your bait ready. The best bait to use for blue crabs is raw chicken, or oily fish like saltwater catfish or mullet, but crabs are bottom feeders so don’t think too hard about what scraps you come up with. You can’t go wrong with a raw chicken neck, and it holds up a lot better than most fish.
If you’re in this for the long haul or just want the easier route, large box wire traps will work very well off the end of your dock. All you do is set the bait in the trap, drop it off the dock (with a line attached), and leave it. Decent-sized crabs can’t escape, and depending on the day, in an hour or two check back. You could have a few crabs awaiting their demise.
If you either don’t want to invest much, or want a more interactive (and fun!) activity for the family to be in on the action, go for good old fashioned line and a dip net. With this method, tie the bait to one end of a weighted line and toss it off the dock. Watch closely until you feel a tug, then slowly pull it in. Once you have sight of the crab, have someone drop the net flat next to it, drag it on top, then pull up the net! Voila!
Although there’s no size limit on blue crabs, I recommend throwing back the small ones. Trust me- they’re more trouble than they’re worth, so let them grow up to spawn another day. It’s also courteous to release females, and mandatory if they have eggs, which appear as an orange “sponge-like” growth. In Florida each recreational crabber is allowed ten gallons of whole crabs per day.
For Florida Blue Crab Regulations, go HERE.
Side Note: Blue Crabs also make great baits for everything from cobia and tarpon, to redfish and permit. If you don't like the taste, something else will!