View Full Version : Crab

04-21-2007, 08:10 PM
Hi Folks;

Normally I'm a bass fisherman, but recently got back into crabbing, as my lady got us season passes to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and there are days when rides just aren't my thing.

Lets get a regular discussion going here on crabbing. I'll start it out with a report, and a question.
Report : Santa Cruz Wharf 4/20/07 : The tide was coming in most of the day, and the skys were really overcast. Crabbing was practically nil, with my only bringing up one spider crab(that was really nasty looking from old wounds), and one dungeness hanging on the bottom of my ring net. Plenty of sea stars caught though. I tried using some old fish parts, but it was a dead area, or they just werent interested.

Now the Question : Does anyone in CA, use Star traps for dock crabbing? I grew up in Washington , and that was what most dock siders used. I haven't seen anyone using them here, and didn't know if it was personal choice or if they were just illegal to use or something.

04-21-2007, 10:53 PM
i use the twin hoop nets, do you have pictures of this star net?

and is crabbing at the boardwalk usually good?

04-22-2007, 02:40 AM
I crab in Pacifica and the most successful method is the crab snare because you can get them out much farther by casting. Using hoop nets or traps in Pacifica is far less successful and pretty much leads to what you caught: Nothing.

04-22-2007, 08:01 AM
Here are a few tips on how to crab. I live in the FT Bragg area and will often go out to target crabs.
First crabs like fresh bait. If its freezer burned forget it. Then if you have a carcass of a fish that you filleted use that, not just the head.
Tie your bait directly to the crab net or hang it from your pot, dont put it into one of those plasic bait containers.
And the rest is up to you to figure out. When i go crabbing we average 16 to 20 leagl dugeness carbs.

04-22-2007, 08:11 AM
I usually do crabbing at.....Fort Baker....I think that's the one....it's the one directly down from the golden gate bridge if you are going up north. I use the hoop net with a holder for the bait that I'm throwing out. I've used chickens, old fish parts (not freezer burned), and believe it or not, I've also used anchovies. The place usually have a lot of people crabbing and if you are late, you won't get the good spots. My family and I usually do well out there. On a good night we would get anywhere from 35-50 legal crabs. On a poor night, it'll range from 10-20. While having the nets in the water, I like to just fish for the smelts out there. Never really caught anything big out there yet, but I just love bringing in one smelt after another. Now of course, I don't eat the smelt, so back in the water they go...if the people around me doesn't want it.

04-22-2007, 08:56 PM
Lets see .. first heres a link showing a Star trap.

As far as the Wharf in Santa Cruz.. I'm not sure as I just started crabbing here in Ca. I'm actually going to try a local's recommendation of crabbing the inner harbor for red and yellow rock crab.

I think maybe the biggest problem of the Wharf is the ton of sea lions and harbor seals hanging out around it constantly.

04-23-2007, 03:07 PM
I've seen star nets used at the piers. They seem to work just as good as the round hoop nets. They just need to be balanced in order to close up evenly. Sometimes the star nets don't sink straight when there's alot of current. They tend to flip over when sinking. Still need to use a wire cage or the seals are going to feast. I usually use frozen fish heads from my rockfish trips. Mostly cabezone, GRF's and greenling heads. I also add some thing else like fresh squid, cut sardines or some chicken parts, whatever is cheap (and oily) at the asian markets.

04-24-2007, 02:58 PM
Does anyone know a good cheap source for Chicken necks in West San jose or Campbell areas? most stores don't seem to have em. Most every resource on crabbing suggests them as bait.

04-25-2007, 09:41 AM
Does anyone know a good cheap source for Chicken necks in West San jose or Campbell areas? most stores don't seem to have em. Most every resource on crabbing suggests them as bait.

I just use the legs...They work pretty good. I cram the bait box full of bloody legs and tie it the second ring and pow :D

04-25-2007, 10:45 AM
Last time I went to Ft Baker I used a package of chicken livers, duct taped the lid on and poked holes in it. I attached it to the smaller ring with some wire and it worked great.

04-25-2007, 10:46 AM
Does anyone know a good cheap source for Chicken necks in West San jose or Campbell areas? most stores don't seem to have em. Most every resource on crabbing suggests them as bait.

Try race street fish and poltry on race they probibly have some as for the price i don't know. Aslo may be constantinos at basom and union they have a great meat counter.

04-26-2007, 08:33 AM
Or maybe try the Marina (asian market) in Cupertino. I believe it's on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Rd. south of I-280. It's close to Apple Comp.

04-26-2007, 02:05 PM
Went for some turkey drums and a couple of cans of Nine Lives catfood. Used to use it all the time in Washington. Just poke a few holes in the sides and toss it in the baitcage.

Say has anyone ever tried that Smelly Jelly brand crab attractant? I saw some at Mel Cottons sporting goods, and wondered if it's worth using.

Someone on a board for the east coast on crabbing suggested using anise extract on some of the bait as crabs back there seem to really like anise.

04-26-2007, 02:33 PM
I was looking for a star trap in Eureka, the guys at Bucksport said they quit carrying them with the advent of the snares and didn't know where to find one. They are more effective and entertaining to use.

04-28-2007, 08:53 AM
Well heading down to Santa Cruz tomorrow morning to try my luck in the harbor area. I'll post back what the catch, if any, is like.

04-29-2007, 05:27 PM
Well the sunday crabbing in Santa Cruz Harbor was a bust with my only getting one fairly large red rock crab. The babies out there loved the Turkey drumsticks, but mom and dad just weren't home i guess.

Still it was fun. Gonna skip a couple weeks then hit the wharf again.

One of the locals told me that the harbor is good, but only at night during a high tide, and squid is the best bait for there, though the turkey runs about 3rd or 4th on the list as a good bait.

I think the biggest problem there is the lack of places you can actually drop a trap. The only place is attached to the fueling dock by the boat launch as every thing else is private berth marinas, with no public access.

Anyone crab Capitola wharf?

04-30-2007, 09:00 PM
New yahoo group for those who care to join.. Dockrats who crab pacifica to capitola


05-03-2007, 01:03 PM
A word on Star Traps..

I inquired about them as the regs are pretty straight forward on traps, and got a response this morning from DFG/ Enforcement Division.

"Star traps are not included in our list of allowed traps as they do not meet state specifications therefore they are illegal to use in the state of CA."

So if you're using them... watch out.

05-03-2007, 02:32 PM
I'm camping in Santa Cruz early June and have never been crabbing. I'd like to give it a try since I read the talk about crabbing near the boardwalk. Has anyone had any success in Santa Cruz? Anyone wanna share some basics with me... I think i've got bait down but that's about it. Snares or pots? and anything else you can think of...

05-03-2007, 06:03 PM
Well one tip on crabbing SC is to buy your equiptment away from the touristy prices. We paid 21 bucks for our ring net down there and they retail for 13.99 at Mel Cottons in San Jose. Ours did come with a roll of rope and was ready to use, but still you're better off at Mel's or fisherman's warehouse.

I have only done the Wharf one time and the harbor the second.. Don't crab the harbor as I was just informed by harbor ops that it is not allowed nor is fishing in the harbor.

I'd try the far end of the Wharf. Just make sure that if you buy a ring net you spend the extra 4-5 bucks for a bait cage for it. SC Wharf has a ton of Sea lions hanging around and they WILL dive after your net to see if your bait is caged or not.. If not you can kiss it and maybe your net goodbye.

I'm waiting a couple of weeks to try again.. Oh and a reminder that Dungeness season ends in June, so you may have to stick to rock crabs and Spider crabs as your keepers. The Wharf folks recommend squid as bait.

05-04-2007, 08:57 AM
What is the best type of trap? Crab ring, snare...???

05-05-2007, 09:43 AM
Trap types would depend on what you want to spend really. All of them
work just about equally.. Snares, Ring nets, pots..

If you can handle pulling the weight I'd go with a pot style.. less chance of run away crabs that are legal sized.

I use a ring net myself..They go for about 16 to 21 bucks depending on
if you get one in the city or pay dockside tourist prices.
I also have heard from people all up down the CA coast swearing by
If you have a medium weight to heavy fishing rod and some 15 lb or
heavier test line, snares are your cheapest route, plus you can get
them out away from the wharf itself into deeper water.

I know at the Wharf they go for 6.99 but at Mel cottons in San Jose
they are 4.99. I'm going to pick one up myself before I crab next time
to try both it and my ring net.

Good Luck

05-05-2007, 09:46 AM
Say does anyone use a snare and if you do what lb test line and rod weight do you use?

05-05-2007, 10:02 AM
If you can go big, 20+, also a trick i learned in somewhat snaggy water, tie the weight to them with a heavy rubber band so as not to lose the snare, when the weight snags, or use tabacco pouches. Remember you have the chance to snare more than one, and those large dungee's have some weight, combine this with current, and maybe wave action (don't know about souther california water) it sure helps to be able to just winch them up. Also, never let any slack, cause they will just slide on out if you do so. Up north you can just rig a hi-lo, cast out, wait for the crab pump, reel in slowly, at a constant rate, and voila, dungee's on shore.

05-05-2007, 10:03 AM
I'm sure Mel Cotton's appreciates your advertising. I went there yesterday and bout a snare, crab ring, bait box, rope, um... and and a few other trout toys. I gotta stay out of that place, it's way too much fun in there. Anyway, i have all this gear just gotta learn to use it...

05-05-2007, 02:02 PM
Yeah my GF hates taking me to ol Mel's.. a "5 minute stop to get some stuff" usually ends up being 45 minutes..
I only gave the kudo's about mels as they have been the cheapest place in the SJ area to get crab gear.

Oh and thanks finshngsw for the tip on line. My rods a medium weight and i know my reel won't go 20. but maybe some 15lb braid would be good.

05-05-2007, 03:10 PM
So 20 lb test for the snare? I'm trying to soak up as much info as i can.

DW... I sent you a PM... Let me know if you're interested.

Mel Cottons is definately Toys R Us for sportsmen!

05-05-2007, 05:30 PM
i crab the pacifica pier alot and cast heavy snares as far as i can so i use 30 lb. and then if u snag you have a chance at getting it out, but 20 lb line should be enough ;)

05-05-2007, 09:44 PM
When using a snare what's the "hit" feel like? Can you compare it to any fish??? Might give it a shot Sunday...

05-05-2007, 10:03 PM
not neccesarily a hit, but depending on how much weight you have, kind of a pull. Remember you have to set the snare like you would set a hook on a soft lipped fish. Not a hard jerk, but close and a little smoother, picture those snares with those little crab feet inside, dont want to pull it away but enough for those little feet to get caught when the snare moves away, not real hard, but is a bit of a science, you'll get the hang of it.

If youi ever want the dungees up north in humboldt county give me a PM

05-06-2007, 02:45 PM
Thanks! Will drive for crab!!! LOL ;D

05-07-2007, 06:12 AM
Drive for crabs, try diving for crabs its a blast! Put down a couple of pots loaded with fresh bait in 20 to 30 ft of water and watch the crabs come into the pots. About 1 in 10 crabs actually go into the pots the rest dont like to climb on the wire, but will stick their claws through the waire trying to get to the bait.
I wear gloves and pick up the crabs and put them into the pots, its fun and we always get limits of nice dungeys.

05-07-2007, 07:22 AM
Diving sounds fun but i'm chicken! The crabs might think i'm the bait! ;D Not scared of the crabs just of diving in the ocean... Only scuba dove once in Mexico and that was a BLAST!

05-07-2007, 09:48 AM
I have 6 hoop nets and a couple snares. We usually find the nets at flea markets/garage sales for about $3-5 each. We crabbed at Ft Point Pier last thursday and kept 14 medium-large Red Crabs (using 4 nets only) in 3 hours time. Alot of small throwbacks (red and rocks). Only caught one large Dungie which was thrown back. Bait was some old cabezone heads and some fresh squid in metal cages.

Snares work pretty good however you usually bring up one large crab, as opposed to bringing between 1-4 crabs using the net. My snare hardware consists of a small wire cage, approx 3" square which is just big enough for a squid (in lieu of the large bait hook), and 25lb mono. on the reel. The snare has (4) 50lb. mono. loops plus a couple smaller 30lb. stationary loops that I've added for extra insurance. I use a 2 ft., 25lb. SS wire leader that is tied to the main snare loop, with a large SS swivel snap that attached to the reel line. I sugesst using the SS leader because it takes most of the stress/abuse. You can tie the reel mono directly to the snare loop but neded to keep checking for nicks and worn areas. You can usually feel the tap, tap of the crab as it tries to eat the bait. One quick jerk is all it takes to set the loops. The crabs are usually so greedy that they still won't release the bait, even after being lifted out of the water.

05-07-2007, 02:55 PM
Do you cast it out as far as you can? (Does distance matter? Make it harder to retrieve? Maybe more crabs?) or do you go for a promising spot?

This forum is great! I feel as if i'm getting years of experience and haven't even gotten my pots wet... Thanks everyone!

05-07-2007, 04:47 PM
at the pacifica pier i cast it as far as i can... i have better luck that way ;)

05-07-2007, 07:35 PM
hey out there we like to go out to Lawsons Landing at Dillon beach camping or day use , this trip out we stayed from thursday to monday the 7 th and caught 8 , not a lot but enough for lunch and dinner over the trip , lawsons is realy a great place to go .

05-08-2007, 11:16 AM
Hey Baldeagle, was anybody catching any fish out of Lawsons? Gpoing there this weekend and wondered if the halibut or sharks were in the bay?

Let me know, thanks-

05-09-2007, 04:16 PM
we didnt see anyone with fish every one was claming on the - tide , and when we left on monday the 7th the wind finnaly calmed down if thats any help

05-10-2007, 01:19 PM
Back to the subject which is crabbing..

Looks like I'm going to be trying the Santa Cruz wharf again Sunday afternoon once I put in enough time with my lady and her son over on the boardwalk rides to keep her happy.
So far my bait list to try is made up of a lot of kitchen scrap stuff but below is the list and I'll let you know what worked or didn't.. kind of hard to judge seeing as there isnt a huge population in that area, most likely to the bacteria in the water ( still say thats from the sea lions being so damn abundant). Anyway the bait list so far is :

Chicken skins(from thighs, we don't do the skin)
chicken gizzards and hearts
leftover shells from home boiled shrimp
1 can of pacific salmon dinner friskies catfood
2 chicken thighs
1 bag of frozen mixed seafood( clams, octopus, shrimp, K-rab(fake crab), squid rings) 1. 99 at the grocery outlet store.. gonna let it thaw out in our hot kitchen on Saturday so it will stink more.

and hopefully I'll have the extra to get either some frozen eel, or some crab smelly jelly attractant.
Going to nylon stocking up all the small stuff that could go through the bait cage bars.

I'm on a board for blue crabbing the east coast to get ideas and a lot of folks use eel, squid, some fish called bunker, bull lips an chicken necks.

Can't find the bull lips or chicken necks here..
Just working for smelly stuff thats cheap as possible.

Kinda wondering if the high bacteria levels at the nearby beach are chasing away what crab normally would be there..

05-11-2007, 06:39 PM
Well I ended up picking up a jar of the Smelly Jelly crab attractant, by recommendation of several folks in Washington and on the east coast as well. Everyone claims it smells horrible..

So I take it out on the walkway outside our apartment and open it up...
It made me hungry for chowder. It smells like clam nectar(aka clam juice).

I'll let you know if it makes a difference though.

05-13-2007, 11:32 AM
Anyone having any luck?

05-13-2007, 08:05 PM
Santa Cruz Results.. :NADA.. as in nada damn thing. Now I know the bait was working as I kept bringing up my ring net with 1-6 sea stars in it after 10-15 minutes in the water.
Talked to one of the ladies at Andys at the end of the wharf snackbar/tackle shop and she said she has seen one large crab snare caught last week but that is it this season. She said even the dock fishermen have been coming up empty handed. Generally year to year the Wharf has been a very good fishing and crabbing place but this season for some reason it's totally dead.

Could it be the herds of sea lions every where. Roughly 40 to 50 of them have been hanging out there constantly.. They have to be eating something..Probably the crabs and schools of bottom fish.

My lady is so hot on how much we spent on crabbing gear( we bought it tourist priced at 21 buck for a ring net) and so few results, that if we have enough extra for gas we may hit Pacifica next Sunday if the crabbing is good there.

How has it been lately in Pacifica folks?
Dungeness or rock either one.. how is the crabbing going.. is it worth driving for an hour and half? Will we get the limit on dungees?

05-13-2007, 08:07 PM
:-X oh and a side note.. yes the smelly jelly smells massively once it it hits the water. in the jar.. not bad.. once wet.. eeewww! But it was drawing the star fish like crazy.

05-13-2007, 10:34 PM
did a bit of research tonight online.. I hop that you folks who crab Fort baker are rock crabbing as according to all source I can find keeping dungeness from there is illegal.

05-14-2007, 05:52 AM
Think the problem with the Santa cruz area is to many people to many crab traps/snares/pots and to few crabs. Same goes for the fishing around there.
You can catch almost everything in the sea.

05-14-2007, 07:24 AM
For those crabbing Fort Baker, Fort Point, Muni Pier or any pier in the Bay, be very careful. You can only keep rock crabs. Dungeoness are not to be kept.

(a) Dungeness crab (Cancer magister):
(1) Closure: Dungeness crab may not be taken
or possessed in San Francisco Bay and San
Pablo Bay, plus all their tidal bays, sloughs and
estuaries between the Golden Gate Bridge and
Carquinez Bridge.

The only public pier that you can keep dungeoness crabs in the Bay Area is Pacifica pier.

05-14-2007, 07:28 AM
Here's the section on gear restrictions

29.80. Gear Restrictions.
(a) General Provisions:
(1) Saltwater crustaceans may be taken by hand.
(2) Nets, traps or other appliances may not be used except as provided in this Section.
(3) It is unlawful to disturb, move, or damage any trap, or remove any saltwater crustacean from
a trap, that belongs to another person without written permission in possession from the owner
of the trap.
(b) Baited hoop nets may be used to take spiny lobsters and all species of crabs. Between Point
Arguello, Santa Barbara County, and the United States-Mexico border, not more than five baited
hoop nets may be fished by a person to take spiny lobster and crab, not to exceed a total of 10
baited hoop nets fished from any vessel.
(c) Crab traps shall have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter
inches inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than
five inches from the top of the trap.
(d) Crab loop traps may have up to six loops.
(e) Crab trap areas: Crab traps, including crab loop traps, may be used north of Point Arguello to
take all species of crabs (see regulations for take of Dungeness crabs in traps from commercial
passenger fishing vessels in Section 29.85, Title 14, CCR).
(f) Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. Trap openings may
not exceed 1/2 inch in any dimension on traps used south of Point Conception nor five inches in
any dimension on traps used north of Point Conception.
(g) Diving for crustaceans: In all ocean waters, except as provided in Section 29.05, skin and
SCUBA divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only. Divers may not possess any
hooked device while diving or attempting to dive.
(h) Hand operated appliances: Spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by
hand may be used to take sand crabs and shrimp.
(i) Dip nets and Hawaiian type throw nets: Shrimp may be taken with dip nets and Hawaiian type
throw nets north of Point Conception.
(j) Shrimp trawls: Shrimp beam trawls may be used to take shrimp only in San Francisco Bay
waters east of the Golden Gate Bridge, and in San Pablo Bay. The beam trawl frame from which
the net is hung may not exceed 24 inches by 18 inches. The trawl may be towed by motorized
vessels but may not be retrieved by mechanical devices. Any fish, other than shrimp, caught in
the trawl must be returned immediately to the water.

Looks like it does not include the star trap so it is technically illegal.

05-14-2007, 11:03 AM
talking with the locals down in Santa Cruz, this year is just freaky. Normally lots of crab, lots of fish. This year tons of sea lions showed up, and now.. nothing.

Also last year a ton of the charter boats had a bad season as far as getting customers, so they went out and crabbed instead to break even.
So all that I believe killed it off , so do a lot of the locals.

05-14-2007, 11:04 AM
Fort baker and start traps being illegal was already covered in this thread in the last week.
DFG told me personally in email that only pots with 3 inch rings 3 inches from the bottom of the pot, snares, and ring nets are the ONLY legal means other than hand gathering in the state.

05-14-2007, 12:12 PM
So it appears that one can keep legal size Dungeness crab at the Pillar Point/Princeton Pier. However in all the times we have crabbed there, mostly have caught Rock Crabs and undersized Dungies.

05-14-2007, 03:55 PM
Rockies are better than none..
get enough to make a good dinner and the trip from San Jose is worth it.
I'll take 15 rockies or 10 dungees.. either suits me fine.

05-16-2007, 08:08 AM
Fort baker and start traps being illegal was already covered in this thread in the last week.
DFG told me personally in email that only pots with 3 inch rings 3 inches from the bottom of the pot, snares, and ring nets are the ONLY legal means other than hand gathering in the state.

I know. Giving someone specific sections helps to solidify/certify what is being stated, otherwise it is a case of "he said she said". It doesn't matter who your source is, without codified verification, I wouldn't take anyone's word for gospel especially if I could got to jail or get a citation.

05-16-2007, 04:53 PM
I think I might just take the attitude that if it works, it must be (or soon will be) illegal!!! ;D

I wonder if there will eventually be regulations for fishing for rubber duckies in an inflatable kiddie pool? (just kidding....sorta)

Act now! Save the duckies!

05-18-2007, 05:56 AM
hello from england, i am planning on going crabbing very soon. i checked ebay uk for two ring crab nets and nothing, i have never seen them over here.

all we have is mostley sold to children and it consists of a length of string wraped around a handle and we are suposed to tie the bacon rind onto the end of the string and put it off the end of the peir and wait and oull it up and hope the crab holds on untill you have got the bucket or net underneath it.

could be a little bit frustrating, so i made my own two ring crab net. i got some heavy duty garden wire and made two loops with it plus a litle extra to bend round itself to hold the loops toghether.

cut the wire with pliers and wraped the extra 2 inches anround the two loops of the one piece of wire. then made the same again.

so two loops and then i bought some fine mesh garden netting and cut out the width of the hoop from the netting still leaving it 12' long.
used clothing pegs to hond the end of the netting to the hoop edge and wraped the 12' long piece of netting around the hoop from all angles,when finished peg the other end of netting with a few clothes pegs.

you dont have to use as much as this but i did for extra strength as the netting was a little flimsy. then proceded to sew in the netting to the hoop edge with thin polypropelene string threading it through every half inch or so.

once done i cut the sides of the net and proceded to peg the side piece to the hoop and proceded to sew again using the same technique until all the way round. then sew in the second hoop to the top of the side piece using string and pegs. then sew thw side seam into the net.

seems like a lot of time consuming work but if you cant buy one then it seems the only option.

good luck.

by the way can anyone tell me how to gut and clean a crab so it can be eaten.

hope you liked the diy instructions. :)

05-18-2007, 10:23 AM
Here is a link with pictures that will help. I always cook the crab first, then clean it. The pics show a blue crab being cleaned raw.


05-18-2007, 11:24 AM
Nice demo page.. Thanks Toxic..

I posted elsewhere but has anyone been up to Pillar point harbor by Half Moon bay this year?

05-18-2007, 12:32 PM

have you heard of chinese mitten crab. that is what i am fishing for. i have heard thatb there are no glands to remove in these crabs. but surley they have lungs!

i supose it is that the mitten crab is a freshwater crab. they get to the size of a small dinner plate though and are just as round too.

we have thousands in the river thames at the moment and they are considered a pest at the moment.

so gonna net a few two get the size right and then gonna set my pots for them.

by the way, i am not chinese, i am called "china" because it is cockney rhyming slang.

it's "me old china plate."= mate. (meaning friend, as in shipmate.)

cheers. :)

05-18-2007, 12:43 PM
Welcome aboard!
Let us know how you do with your new traps!


05-18-2007, 01:40 PM
yeah ok. will do. thanks. 8-)

05-22-2007, 04:15 PM
anyone hit Capitola for crabbing lately?