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Crabbing in New Jersey

Planning a crabbing adventure in NJ? Explore the best spots, regulations, and techniques for a successful crabbing experience along the scenic Jersey Shore. Catch blue claw crabs and create memories to last a lifetime.

New Jersey offers a fantastic opportunity to head out on crabbing adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned crabber or a beginner eager to dip your toes into this exciting activity, New Jersey provides an ideal setting to catch and enjoy crabs.  

We’re sharing the ins and outs of crabbing in New Jersey, from the best locations and techniques to the regulations and tips for a successful crabbing experience. 

Crabbing for blue crab at the Jersey Shore has become a cherished tradition for our family during the summer months. 

Crabbing allow us to disconnect and offers an affordable and memorable way to spend quality time by the water. 

When is Crabbing Season in NJ?

When does crabbing season start in new jersey? Crab season in New Jersey typically begins in late spring or early summer and extends into the fall.

It’s recommended to check the current regulations and consult local sources for the most up-to-date information on crabbing seasons and regulations in New Jersey.

Typically, the crabbing season runs in New Jersey from March 15 through November 30; In the Delaware Bay the season is April 16-December 14.

When is the Best Time to go Crabbing?

The best time to go crabbing can vary depending on several factors, including the location, weather, and the specific type of crabs you are targeting. However, there are some general guidelines to consider:

Crabbing is typically more productive during the warmer months when crabs are more active, usually around Mid-June into August.

Crabs are often more active during high tide, especially during the full moon and new moon phases. These periods create stronger tidal currents, which can improve crabbing success.

Crabs are cold-blooded creatures, and their activity levels increase as the water temperature rises. Aim for water temperatures between 55°F and 75°F for optimal crabbing conditions.


Best Time of Day for Crabbing in NJ?

Early mornings and evenings are popular times for crabbing, as crabs tend to be more active during these periods. However, crabs can be caught throughout the day, so it’s worth experimenting with different times.

crab traps

What do I Need to Go Crabbing?

You can find crabbing supplies at local bait shops, your local sporting good store or even at Walmart.

How do you catch crabs?

  • The middle of your traps will have a prong to hold your bait.
  • The next step is to tie the rope on your trap to the railing. With a great swoop, throw the traps into the water.
  • Wait Patiently: Allow the trap or baited line to sit undisturbed for several minutes. Crabs are attracted to the scent of the bait and will be drawn to investigate.
  • After awhile, it’s time to pull your traps up!! We like to wait 10-15 minutes in between pulling up our traps.
  • With a steady hand, pull your trap up. The goal is quickly shut the trap doors on the traps so that they do not open again until they are back up on land.

Another option for traps is a simple snag line. You can purchase these at the same location as a the traps.

  • Attach the bait underneath the weight and then tie your line to the rail. Drop the line all the way to the bottom, until you feel the weight hit the bottom.
  • As you pull the line back up, have a net ready to catch the crab right off of the bait!

Handle with Care: When handling crabs, grasp them firmly but gently from the rear end of the shell to avoid getting pinched.

Another item you will want to have on hand is a pair of simple tongs to pick up the crabs and get them into your bucket!

What kind of Crab Bait do I need?

Throughout the summer months, I stock up on cheap chicken necks, legs, thighs and wings. Crabs love chicken and is a great recreational crabbing bait.

Another favorite of recreational crabbers is using bunker fish. You can catch some or purchase at a bait shop. Usually bunker cost around $2 each.

Places To Go Crabbing in NJ

Looking for the best crabbing spots in NJ?

Look for areas with shallow water, such as marshes, piers, or docks, where crabs are known to congregate. Ideal spots often have submerged or floating structures like rocks or pilings, which crabs use as hiding places.

  • Bass River Bridge Area
  • Barnegat Bay in Seaside Heights (Dock Outfitters has a nice fishing pier with a food concession stand)
  • Windward Beach in Brick
  • Good Luck Point in Bayville
  • Somers Point (Patcong Creek, Great Egg Harbor River, Great Egg Harbor Bay, Mays Landing Road), Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County
  • At the end of Poplar Ave. in Linwood behind the Linwood Country Club
  • Great Bay Blvd on Seven Bridges Road in Little Egg Harbor
  • Rt 539 & Green Street, Tuckerton (at the end of the road)
  • Grassy Sound Marina Wildwood (charges a small admission fee)
  • Creek Boat Rentals in Dividing Creek has crab boat rentals
  • Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, Wildwood Crest
  • Route 52 Causeway Fishing Pier off of Ninth Street, Ocean City
  • Mantoloking Bridge Park in Point Pleasant (This is a good park with public restrooms, small park area, picnic area, boat ramp)
  • A good area to rent small boats is Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Newport

These are just a few places, a quick google search will yield a ton of other great spots.

Measure and Release Crabs

Check local regulations for size and gender restrictions. If a crab doesn’t meet the legal requirements, gently release it back into the water.

Here in NJ, hard crabs must be 4 1/2 inches from point to point to keep. Shedder crabs must be 3 inches, soft crabs 3.5″.

Can You Keep Female Crabs in NJ?

To help support conservation efforts, it is generally recommended to release female crabs back into the water.

Do You Need a Crabbing License in NJ?

Crab Pots and Trot Lines will need a license from the State of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. You may catch up to one bushel.

Use your crabs in these recipes

Once you’ve successfully caught fresh crabs, you can prepare and enjoy them in various delicious ways.

Freshly caught crab meat is incredibly versatile and can be used in various recipes. Some popular options include crab cakes, crab stuffed flounder, crab salad, crab dip, crab-stuffed mushrooms, or simply enjoying the meat on its own with melted butter and lemon.

Be sure to save this post for the next time you want to go crabbing! Would you like to share your best spot or favorite spots? Do you have any questions? Ask away!

blue claw crabs

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Bob Gallo

Thursday 13th of July 2023

"Do You Need a Crabbing License in NJ? Crab Pots and Trot Lines will need a license from the State of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife."

It's unclear if a small standard crab trap, like the one you shown under "The Best Time of Day" heading above, requires a license. Can someone clarify?

I'm not sure what is meant by a "crab pot or trot line".

momma lew

Thursday 13th of July 2023

Hi Bob, Single hand lines and collapsible traps do not require a license. The traps and hand line I recommend do not need a license. Something like this will:

Brian Vangulick

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

How many crab traps can one person use one page says 2 and another says 6 traps wich is it lol????

momma lew

Tuesday 14th of September 2021

There actually isn't any limit on how many crab traps one person can use. If you are using large pots, then it is 2, the kind you would soak for a few days or over night.

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Judy Landmesser

Tuesday 19th of January 2016

where do you go crabbing?

MaryLee Nesfeder

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

@momma lew, The Bridge to Nowhere has some good crabbing...if you can stand the horse flies! You need alot of OFF!

momma lew

Tuesday 19th of January 2016

Hi Judy. Usually we go to Manahawkin Bridge Park.