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Crabbing on the Coast

This past weekend, my husband and I were fortunate enough to have a little time to ourselves for a “day date.” Any time spent with just my hubby is time well spent, but honestly, I LOVE a day date. On this particular day date, we decided to go fishing. The weather was a little questionable but we managed. One part of our fishing adventure was crabbing with dip nets. This is something, we as a family, have always enjoyed. It’s easy, fun and with a little luck, fruitful.

For those of you with little people (my sons are five and nine and enjoy this), crabbing with dip nets is a great way to take them fishing with minimal skill involved. To begin with, you need to ensure you purchase a recreational saltwater fishing license. You can purchase this license from several local retailers such as Wal-Mart, Academy Sports, or at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources building in Biloxi. The recreational saltwater fishing license is currently $12.29 and is good for one year. Everyone in your group over the age of 15 will need a license to fish (see additional licensing information here).

Once you have the license now you need the equipment, my family uses string dip nets. They are very inexpensive, and we have used some for numerous years in a row.

String dip nets are inexpensive and can typically be used for multiple years

Now that you’ve got the license and net, you need some bait. I have heard of several different types of bait used, but if you’re like us and go crabbing for fun, usually with the kiddos, the use of chicken necks is cheap and easy (would love to hear about what you use as bait in the comment section). You can purchase necks in the bait section and use kite string to attach the necks to the net.

The use of chicken nets as bait is cheap and easy
Use kite string to attach the necks to the net

You’re now all set to go crabbing. You just need to find yourself a location. You will need a pier type of set up, where you can tie your nets and drop them into the water (make sure you tie them to the pier before you drop them over, or your crabbing adventure will be over sooner than you planned).

Let your net sink to the bottom and leave it for a bit for crabs to come and take a nibble on your chicken necks. We customarily wait for 10 minutes or so (or for as long as the kiddos can stand it). Pull them up every so often and check for crabs. Keep in mind, there is a size limit of at least five inches from tip to tip for blue crabs (see fishing regulations here).  All smaller crabs will need to be thrown back in so you can catch them another day. In my experience, the kids don’t really care if we keep them; they just like catching them.

If you do catch any legal-size crabs and decide to keep them, throw those guys on some ice and take them home for a crab boil. If you were like us and came home with an empty ice chest, you can always purchase fresh local seafood from a licensed seafood dealer in the area. Remember, my friends, to buy local!

Despite our lack of an ice chest full of crabs, we had a great time on our day date. Maybe on your next day date or outing with the kiddos, you could try your hand at crabbing with dip nets and spend some time enjoying the scenery of our beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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Written by Jessica Rankin

I am a married mother of two rambunctious boys. For over a decade I worked in Marine Resources as a Fisheries Biologist and recently changed career directions to follow my dream of owning my own business. I am now the Owner of The Safe Food Culture LLC a consulting business specializing in food safety regulatory and training. It’s my goal to support businesses in creating cultures rooted in safe food practices. For more information please visit: www.thesafefoodculture.com

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