Recreational crabbing is a lot of fun and brings great rewards to your dinner table, too.
If you like blue crabs and stone crabs and enjoy getting out on the water and being in the outdoors look into trapping the recreational limit of five blue crab traps. It doesn't get any fresher than that.
I got out on the water with my nephew, Todd Ryan, recently to check our traps. He was as anxious as I was to see what each trap had inside. As we pulled the boat closer to each buoy we all waited with excitement to see what was inside each crab trap or pot as they are often called.
Van Hubbard checks recreational crab pots for dinner possibilities.
Crab traps are usually made with wire mesh in a square shape with a one-way door that crabs can get into but not back out through.
A typical crab trap is 2 feet wide by 2 feet long and about a foot and a half tall. The bait is secured in a wire box positioned in the middle of the trap. On one or two sides a door swings inward but not outward. Crabs are lured in by the bait, crawl inside and are trapped. A long rope with a buoy is attached to the trap.
Good bait is a must. Raw chicken or fish and fish carcasses. It is best not to use small pieces of bait because crabs are likely to pull smaller pieces out of the trap without having to go inside.
Merry Beth Ryan, a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, can be reached at www.merrybethryanphotography.com, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone (941) 544-5023.
Recreational traps are limited to five total, which a person can manage easily - unlike commercial crabbers who might drop thousands of traps. When crabs are running you're more than likely able to get enough crabs weekly to eat and share with family and friends.
After we totaled up the crabs we retrieved we had about 25 nice blue crabs and 20 nice stone crab claws - so we ate well. Some people like to bait their traps and leave them out a week before checking them; others check them every few days. Personal preference is what it boils down to - just make sure you check your traps to make everything runs smoothly each time.
Stone crab season in Florida runs Oct. 15 through May 15, so it just closed.
Blue crabs have no closed season in our county. You cannot keep any egg-bearing female blue crabs. Stone crab claws have to be 2 inch long to keep because when they are larger they can be regrown by the crab. A recreational fishing license is required to harvest blue crabs as well as stone crabs.