Summer Family Activities: Crabbing on Kiawah Island
Everything You Need to Know About Crabbing on Kiawah Island
Crabbing on Kiawah Island is one of the best kid-friendly activities your entire family can partake in. Not only is it fun and exciting, but you get to enjoy some of the freshest seafood at the end of it! Here on Kiawah, we have access to stone crabs and blue crabs, two types of crab that are known for their delicious meat.
Whether you plan to go crabbing on your own or would like to book an excursion, follow these eight simple steps from our friends at Seacoast Sports and Outfitters for a safe and successful day of crabbing!
1. Understand Local Crabbing Laws
Be sure to read up on Kiawah’s local crabbing laws. Fortunately, in South Carolina no license is required to go crabbing on Kiawah Island, and there are also no quantity limits to how many crabs you can keep. However, each individual crab must be at least five inches in width in order to keep and cook them.
2. Pick the Best Time to Go
Check your tide charts before you go crabbing. Two to three hours before high tide and one to two hours after high tide is when you are likely to catch the most crabs. The Freshfields Village Almanac has a local tide chart that is a great resource for helping you decide the best time to go crabbing.
3. Pick the Location
Location is key when it comes to crabbing on Kiawah Island. Knowing where the crabs tend to hang out will ensure more catches for you. Typically, tidal creeks are best for crabbing. More specifically, the docks on Kiawah’s local tidal creeks are known to be the top spot! While the beach, ocean, and freshwater ponds tend to be the worst places for crabbing.
4. Gather Supplies
For a successful outing you will need to bring:
- Crab lines (at least two–three per person)
- Crab bait — raw chicken necks and wings or raw fish are excellent lurants to crabs!
- A crab net fitted with a long pole
- A cooler filled with seawater to keep the crabs fresh
- Crab tongs
5. Dress Appropriately
According to the professionals at Seacoast, sandals or shoes that stay on your feet are a must for safety (no flip-flops). It’s also advised to bring a hat, sunscreen, and a good pair of polarized sunglasses to protect you from the sun. Plus, polarized sunglasses can help you see the crabs in the water!
6. Catch Your Dinner
- You will need at least two people for your crabbing excursion, one to “reel in” the crab and the other to net it!
- Hook your bait to your crab line and make sure it’s securely attached, crabs are experts at removing bait from the line. Cast your bait into the water and make sure it hits the bottom which is where the crabs are. You can tie the end of the crab line to the dock or dock rail and cast two or three lines per person.
- Be sure to check your lines often by pulling the string very slowly and gently. You will be able to tell if you have a crab on the line when you feel a “slight tug”. Once you feel a tug, slowly bring in the line. The key is to lure the crab to the top of the water.
- Once the crab is close to the water’s surface (but before you bring it out of the water) have the second person use the net to catch the crab. Lower the net into the water very slowly so you don’t scare the crab. From here you can position the net under the crab and scoop upwards in one fluid motion to secure it.
- Once you have netted the crab, position the net above the cooler and gently drop the crab inside. Make sure you have enough water in the cooler to cover the crabs completely.
Keep in mind that Kiawah is home to a variety of incredible wildlife, including American Alligators. If you encounter an alligator while crabbing on Kiawah, do not feed it and move to another location. Feeding alligators encourages them to approach humans, making them a danger to humans, pets, and even themselves as they will have to be put down.
7. Measure Your Catch
Afterward, measure your catch to make sure you are abiding by the local laws. Again, if a crab is less than five inches from point to point, you must throw it back! Anything bigger than the limit can be kept for dinner.
8. Feast on Fresh Crab and Make Mac-N-Cheese
At this point, you can clean your crabs to prepare them for cooking. If you’ve never had freshly-caught crab, you will be surprised to see how soft the shell is! Use the crab meat to make a delicious meal, such as Voysey’s (a Members-only restaurant) famous prosciutto and crab mac-n-cheese.
Enjoy Chef Doug Blair’s very own prosciutto and crab mac-n-cheese recipe below.
2 oz. whole butter
1 oz. AP flour
2 ¾ Tablespoons shellfish demi glacé (shrimp, lobster or crab), this strength is 3 qts stock reduced to 8 ounces
1 pt whole milk
1/4 ea whole nutmeg, shaved
¼ t cayenne pepper
1/3 C Jarlsberg cheese, grated
1/3 C white extra sharp aged cheddar, grated
1/3 C yellow sharp cheddar grated
1/3 C pepper jack grated
4 oz. dried tubetti pasta
1 lb. fresh crab meat
6 thin slices of San Danielle prosciutto, julienned
1 medium sweet yellow onion, julienned and caramelized in canola oil on low heat to cook evenly, stirring frequently
2 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated
2 oz. aged extra sharp white cheddar, grated
2 oz. sharp yellow cheddar grated
2 oz. pepper jack grated
Bread Crumb Topping
1/2 C. Japanese (panko) breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon chopped chervil
1 teaspoon chopped chive
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- Melt ½ butter in a pan, then whip in flour to make a roux. The consistency should be like creamy peanut butter. Cook roux over medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Heat milk and shellfish glacé together to just under a simmer, add to roux whipping constantly until incorporated. Let simmer for 20 minutes, then season with cayenne and nutmeg and remove from heat.
- After removing from heat, stir in the four cheeses gradually starting with the pepper jack, until cheese is completely melted, resulting in smooth cheese sauce. Do not return to the stove to heat at this point to avoid a grainy texture.
- While cheese sauce is being made, boil tubetti in salted water until al dente. When pasta is done, add it to cheese sauce stir and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fold in crab and place the entire mixture in a large casserole dish. Sprinkle the 2 oz. of each grated cheese, then the crispy prosciutto and then the caramelized onions on top of Mac. Cover with plastic wrap then foil and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. (If baking from a cold state, this cooking time needs to be 40 minutes) While Mac is baking, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan and add panko crumbs. Stir with rubber spatula until evenly coated with butter. Add the chopped herbs and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
When the dish has baked for 15 minutes, remove plastic and foil and scatter and breadcrumbs evenly across the top. Return mac-n-cheese to the oven for 5 minutes until breadcrumbs brown evenly and the surface is bubbling.
Find Your Adventure on Kiawah Island
Crabbing on Kiawah Island is just one of many adventures to be had here. Living on Kiawah means fresh crab for dinner every night – depending on how good you are at crabbing, that is!
See what life looks like on Kiawah Island and book a Discovery Weekend with one of our Sales Executives. You will get an exclusive glimpse into what living here is truly like, crabbing and all! Contact us below.