Lowcountry Life: Crabbing off the Dock
Why is crabbing off the dock such a satisfying part of Lowcountry life?
Because: 1. It’s easy. 2. It’s cheap. 3. You feel smart and capable. And it really is easy!
Small children even do it quite handily. We recently hosted some northern friends who were visiting Beaufort and for weeks the men were happily anticipating crabbing. Once they got here and saw how little work there was to it, they were sort of disappointed. One kept asking me, “Is that it? There’s nothing else to do?”
I told him to go check the pots. Again.
All you do is stuff the bait part of the crab pot with raw chicken necks- I know others have different baiting ideas but that’s what we do- and just throw them in the water. Wait a while, and pull it back up. If there are crabs – great! If not check your bait and throw it back. Wait awhile and pull it back up again. Repeat these steps as many times as necessary or until you tire of the whole thing.
They do sell little crabbing devices that you throw in and out constantly, sort of like fishing for crabs one at a time. Kids like these because it’s instant gratification and keeps them busy. They would have been good to have around for my northern friends.
Usually, when growing your own vegetables the money=food ratio is way out of proportion to the actual food. I once calculated the cost of each edible tomato I grew and it came to something like $18 a pound, not including labor. Crabbing, however, is cheap, and you get a relatively pricey food item back as a reward! You don’t even have to have a pot.
I have seen people crab with a wad of bread on the end of the string, which is precisely how we fished when I was a kid, so it is definitely in the low tech end of the scale.
Whenever I can provide my own food I feel pretty smart. It is even better when I can share ‘my bounty’ with friends, which enhances any meal, at least for me. And the work involved to get the crab meat is relatively labor-intensive so I do feel quite capable in the end!
There are lots of places to go fishing and crabbing here in the Lowcountry, public boat ramps that have docks are a favorite location because they are 1. Easy, and 2. Cheap. Visit this link for a comprehensive listing of local docks and boat landings.
And that scenery…what’s not to love about the bountiful natural scenery that you will enjoy in-between checking the pots. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the world is waiting right there for you, to stare at, while you’re sitting at the dock.
Bear in mind you may need a SC fishing license- as worded on the DNR website a fishing license is needed if you are …..”Recreational crabbing with commercial-style traps (two traps per person recreational limit) and if using more than 3 fold-up traps, drop nets, or hand lines with chicken necks.” Here’s a link that you may find helpful: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/regs/crabregs.html
But I always enjoy getting my fishing license – because it’s easy (can be done online or in person) and cheap ($10 a year for SC residents). Again, that says it all!
So go get a license, a crab pot, and some chicken necks and get out there! See you at the dock- happy crabbin’!
Article by Cindy Reid