How to have a fun time crabbing for blue claws in New Jersey – From where to go to what you need!
One of our family’s most favorite summer pastimes is crabbing for blue crab at the Jersey Shore. Known for their beautiful coloration, blue claw crabs are a fun summer pastime. It’s a great way to unplug and enjoy a day together by the water that doesn’t cost very much either. We have been crabbing for years, long before we had young children and were so happy when we realized it can be a family sport for us.
The crabbing season runs in New Jersey from March 15 through November 30; In the Delaware Bay the season is April 16-December 14.
The best times to go is from around Mid-June into August when the water temperature is above 55 degrees.
Crabs have a delicious flavor all on their own, but we love the spicy flavor of old bay sprinkled on ours.
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.
- Crab Traps
- Scoop Net
- Bushel Basket
- Drop Line or Hand Lines
- Bait Clips
- Crab Net
- Ruler or measuring tape
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.
- Relax for a bit and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Or you could fish for a bit.
- 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!
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.
Looking for a crabbing spot? Here are the best places:
Some of the best places to find crabs is along the shallow waters of the saltwater bays, bay dock pilings, banks of the creeks and tidal creeks.
- 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.
Always make sure to check local regulations as to what counts as a “keeper”.
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″.
While keeping females is allowed, throw them back, it really is the ethical thing to do.
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.