Both my husband and I took the day off from work to go crabbing - I was looking for an excuse to play *hooky* and he offered. It was a beautiful day today - hot, but without the humidity that has been so oppressive all week. Our usual spot to crab is from a little bridge over the Swimming River in Red Bank - further down the river past the railroad bridge you see in the pic this river becomes the Navesink, five miles or so downriver is Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Crabbing requires little investment or preparation, but is a very repetitive pastime. We set up twenty or so traps across the span of the bridge, excepting the middle part of the bridge where our trap lines would interfere with the boat channel below. I watched and took pictures at this point, rather than handle the bait (fish or raw chicken) - left that yuckiness to my DH and his brother. The rest is easy - check the trap every so often, lifting it from the bottom hand-over-hand, and seeing what you've caught. There is a 4 1/2-inch minimum size, measured point to point across the back and we throw back any females we catch.
The majority of what we caught today were too small to keep, and these little ones usually fall out of the trap as you pull it out of the water. The keepers present somewhat of a challenge to me, as they often just won't be flipped into the bushel basket like a cooperative crab ought to. Instead, they find something to hold onto and won't let go. Shaking the whole trap works, but then you have a crab running around your Teva-sandaled feet. My husband just catches them under his shoe, but he wears steel-toed boots. Crabs can pinch painfully, even drawing blood, and the claws should definitely be avoided!
Here my husband is demonstrating to me the proper technique for holding a crab by the base of one of its swimming appendages called "swimmerets'' or "paddles'' located at the rear of the shell. My husband tells me the big, snapping male blue claws aren't able to reach around and nip a finger this way. Once you have a hold of them and are sure the size is big enough and that it's a male you can then flip it into the basket. Adding a crab into the bushel causes the others to scurry around threateningly - that snapping, lunging mass is no place for your hand! You have to keep the basket in the shade and the crabs moist with a wet towel, but they'll live with proper ventilation for a few hours until you get them home to the pot.
We ended the day with 50 or so keepers for my husband's mom and terrific sunburns. My shoulders and the backs of my knees are red like a lobster - sleeping should be interesting for the next few nights.
4 days ago