Kayak Crabbing: A Guide to a Unique Adventure

Imagine gliding silently through the water, the sun glistening overhead, as you embark on a thrilling crabbing adventure. Kayak crabbing, a lesser-known yet exhilarating activity, allows you to combine your love for kayaking with the excitement of catching crabs. In this article, we will explore the equipment needed, the best techniques, and the joy of cooking and feasting on your freshly caught crabs.

The Essential Equipment

To get started, you will need some basic equipment. There are three main types of crab traps suitable for kayaking: the Danielson box traps, the traditional crab rings, and the collapsible Promar traps. While all of them work well, traps tend to catch more crabs compared to rings due to their design. However, rings offer the advantage of portability, allowing you to carry more of them on your kayak. For the best of both worlds, consider using the Promar collapsible trap. It is a convenient box trap that can be transported collapsed until you are ready to drop it into the water.

Setting up Your Lines and Floats

To ensure a successful crabbing trip, it is crucial to set up your lines and floats correctly. Use approximately 10 to 20 feet more line than the actual depth to accommodate tide changes and swell. Too little line might cause you to lose everything underwater during high tide, while too much line can create a hazard for passing boats. It is advisable to bring along extra lengths of line so you can add them if needed. Attach trigger clips to the ends of your lines for quick connection and disconnection from your traps. Additionally, small sections of pool noodles make excellent floats. They are cost-effective, colorful, and function as line spools. For better visibility at night, attach glow sticks to your floats with zip ties.

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Transporting Your Traps

Transporting your traps safely is one of the biggest challenges of kayak crabbing. To address this, create a homemade rack using two 15-inch pieces of ½-inch PVC tubing inserted into your kayak’s rear scupper holes. These racks will act as vertical supports, preventing your traps from slipping overboard. For added security, use bungee cords to strap them down, ensuring a worry-free journey to your crabbing spot.

Choosing the Perfect Bait

Crabs are scavengers and will be enticed by various baits. Squid is a popular choice, but if you’re on a budget, consider using salmon or rockfish carcasses saved from previous fishing trips. Oily fish like salmon and albacore tend to attract crabs more than other types of fish. Some crabbers also find success with chicken parts or even pheasant carcasses. To minimize messiness, consider pre-packing your bait in bait jars, cages, or net bags and freezing them. This ensures easier setup and longer-lasting potency.

Dropping Your Traps Strategically

Before dropping your traps, it is essential to locate the right areas for crabbing. Use a depth finder to identify ideal spots with flat sandy bottoms for Dungeness crabs or areas near rocks and other structures for rock crabs. Paddle up-current slightly and lower your trap slowly, ensuring that it lands right side up. Hold onto the line until you feel the bottom and have enough slack to keep your float above water. To maximize your chances of success, drop multiple traps at least 50 yards apart and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Experiment with different baits and locations to find the most productive combination for the day.

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Checking and Handling Your Traps

When it’s time to check your traps, put on thick neoprene gloves and paddle up-current to your float. Grab it and begin pulling the line up, allowing the slack to fall back into the water on the down-current side to prevent tangling. If all goes well, you will have a haul of crabs to check for size. Remember, the minimum size for Dungeness crabs is 5-3/4 inches (4-1/4 for rock crabs). Use a crab gauge to measure them correctly. Safely grabbing crabs by their rear-most legs prevents their claws from reaching your fingers. Place the legal crabs into a wet sack or duffle bag to keep them alive and fresh.

From the Sea to the Pot

After a successful crabbing trip, the real reward awaits – cooking and feasting on your delectable crabs. Begin by scrubbing the crabs with a stiff brush to remove any mud from their shells. In a large stock pot, add half a cup of salt, half a liter of water, and half a liter of lemon-lime soda to the crabs. Bring the pot to a boil and continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the crabs cool down or, if you can’t wait, dunk them into cold water. Now, you’re ready to indulge in a mouthwatering crab feast!

For an unforgettable adventure that combines the tranquility of kayaking with the thrill of crabbing, give kayak crabbing a try. Explore the beauty of the waters, savor the joy of the hunt, and reward yourself with a delicious feast. So, grab your kayak, gather your equipment, and head out to experience the unique world of kayak crabbing!

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