Let’s Go “Crabbing” – Have fun and catch dinner on Kiawah Island!
Crabbing is one of the best family activities on the islands. Follow these eight steps from Seacoast Sports and Outfitters, stay safe, and enjoy a delicious crab cake dinner!
Step 1 – Know Your Laws.
Know your local laws regarding crabbing. In SC, there is no license required and no quantity limits. However the crabs must be 5 inches from point to point if you want to keep and cook them.
Step 2 – Pick the Best Time.
You will catch the most crabs 2 – 3 hours before high tide until 1 – 2 hours after high tide. Check your tide charts before you go! You can find a local tide chart on the back page of this issue of the Freshfields Village Almanac.
Step 3 – Pick a Location.
Tidal creeks are best. Not at the beach or in the ocean, and not in freshwater (golf course) ponds. Docks are also best, especially docks in our local tidal creeks on Kiawah and Seabrook Islands.
Step 4 – Gather Your Supplies.
Gather your supplies. You will need:
- Crab lines (at least 2 – 3 per person).
- Crab bait [raw chicken necks work best, but you can use other raw chicken parts (wings), raw fish parts, raw turkey necks, etc.]
- A crab net on a long pole.
- A cooler to keep your crabs in.
- Crab tongs (if you are afraid to pick them up).
- Something to drink.
- All are available at SeaCoast Sports and Outfitters (except the bait).
Step 5 – Dress Appropriately.
You may be in the hot sun for 2 – 4 hours. Sandals or shoes that stay on your feet are a must for safety (no flip-flops!). You will also need a hat to keep the hot sun off of you, sunscreen, and a good pair of sunglasses (preferably polarized). Polarized sunglasses will help you to see the crabs in the water better.
Step 6 – Catch Some Crabs.
- Find a friend (or several friends) and go catch some crabs! You will need at least two people, one to “reel in” the crab, and one to net it.
- Hook your bait to your crab line(s). Make sure your raw chicken is attached well (so it will not fall off). Cast your bait into the water from the dock. Make sure it hits the bottom (that’s where the crabs are). Tie the end of the crab line to the dock or dock rail to make sure you do not lose it. You can bait and cast 2 – 3 crab lines per person.
- Check your line(s) often. To check it, pull 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” on the line. When you feel a tug, “reel in” your crab line slowly. You are trying to get the crab to the top of the water, without it knowing that you are about to catch it.
- When it gets close to the surface, but before you bring it out of the water, have your friend use the net to catch the crab. You should be very slow about lowering the net into the water (so you do not scare the crab), and once you position the net under the crab, move it quickly upwards.
- Once you have netted the crab, position the net above the cooler, and then let the crab drop gently into it. Make sure you enough water in the cooler to cover the crabs.
- Occasionally, in some locations, you will encounter alligators when you are crabbing (they love chicken!). If this happens, do not feed them! Move to another location. If you feed them, they will become trained to approach humans, and will have to be destroyed sometime later as “nuisance” alligators.
Step 7 – Measure Your Crabs.
Measure your crab(s). If it is less than 5 inches from point to point, you must throw it back. If you are going to cook and eat the crab, and it is greater than 5 inches from point to point, put it in your cooler. If you are not planning to cook and clean your crabs (a lot of work), please practice “catch and release”. Take a picture of your wonderful crab(s), and then throw them back for someone else to catch.
Step 8 – Eat Your Crabs.
Cook and clean your crabs. Use the crab meat to make crab cakes, and then enjoy your dinner!