Catching crabs on a landline or Gillie-crabbing, is a terrific activity which holds a magical appeal for all ages. I had never come across it until I had children of my own, perhaps the crabs up North are more canny. Crabbing is not an expensive pastime, apart from purchasing your basic crabbing kit and bait, it’s a free activity and is a great way to while away a couple of hours – even in the rain.
What equipment do you need to be a pro crabber?
- Bucket – First things first, a successful crabber has to have a bucket in which to secure your haul. Fill half way with sea water before you start.
- Hand reel and net – often available to purchase in local seaside shops.
- Bait – You need to lure your crabs with something pungent.
- Fishing net – this is an optional extra, but does help if you have a large catch to control.
Slowly, slowly catchy crabby
For those who have never come across crabbing the concept is quite simple. You use a hand line with bait attached to the end – a small mesh bag can be used although this is frowned upon by purists. Having checked your tide times, you stand on the side of a jetty or pier and drop the bag onto the seabed. Wait for a few anxious minutes and then slowly, slowly pull up the bag. Hopefully the bag will feel ‘heavy’ this is a good sign. Your bait will be so attractive to the crabs that even though they are being lifted out of the water, they can’t bear to let go. Et voila – you have your crabs.
The bait of choice
The cheapest smelliest bacon that you can find. We once stood next to a family who were having no luck at all with their catch whilst we pulled out crabs by the bucket load. They enquired as to our bait of choice and of course we replied ‘bacon’, we asked what they were using and they replied ‘duck’.
Quality or quantity
We go for quantity, our best is over 70 in one session. It could have been more but we lost count.
The tide must be right
Experience indicates that the right time to mount your assault is between two hours before or after high tide. Local knowledge could also help you here.
What’s the Crab dance?
The crab dance is a back and forth side-wards shuffle where your hands make pincer like movements. It should be accompanied by chanting the following ‘Do the crab dance, do the, do the, do the, do the crab dance’. It is guaranteed to send the pesky crustaceans into a trance like state and encourage them to come out of their holes.
So when can I crab?
Crabbing is an all year round activity – although months with an ‘r’ in them deliver superior results.
Can you eat them?
Having caught hundreds of crabs, I fear that none would have been worth taking home for supper.
In an ideal world you will have access to a boat slip which is an ideal spot to release your crabs back to their natural habitat. Make sure you do this slowly and carefully to avoid unnecessary injuries. Then look on as your catch disappears into the depths.
Until the next time crabs!