Fishing & Boating News

A Bit of Twine & Chicken Necks = Blue Claw Fun

by: Ed Snyder, Ed Snyder Outdoors

Fun Day on a Sunday-redtip female (L) and blueclaw male (R).
Photo by Ed Snyder
This Family Group having fun gathering crabs for supper.
Photo by Ed Snyder
(Apr. 11, 2013 - )

The line "twitched" slightly before coming taut against the tide. Fingering it found persistent pulls on the other end, "crab" I whispered to no one in particular while slowly pulling line in with one hand and grabbing my dip-net with the other. Within seconds a crabby hard-shelled critter with blue-tipped pincers busily mangling my chicken neck appeared, and with one quick swoop of the net the menu for this evening's meal upgraded from boiled hotdogs to boiled blue-claws.

Its fun, it's cheap, and it provides a great family style meal for seafood lovers. Crabs, mainly blue claw crabs (named for their aquatic blue colored pincers) are now being enjoyed throughout the Texas Gulf Coast areas. Summer is always the right time for crabbing, which is the one sport where expensive fishing gear isn't needed. A spool of twine ($1.25), chicken necks ($1.44), a dip-net ($8.99), and a Styrofoam cooler ($3.99) is all it takes to get you started.

Although certain types of crab-traps are legal to use they lack the adventurous excitement of the sportier "one-on-one" string & bait technique. If you have a passel of kids and need some sort of baby sitter controls in order to enjoy your outing, then the string and bait method is for you. Just tie on a 12 to 16 foot piece of twine (kite string) to a stake, piling, or scrub in the area near the water you wish to crab, then tie a chicken neck on the other end and just toss out into the water. (Faster current waters may require weights to keep it on the bottom) For maximum fun rig several lines, then just sit back and watch the fun as the kids "run-a-muck" checking lines to see if any crabs have attached themselves to the baits. If so, teach them to slowly pull the lines in - plus- how to submerge a long handle net in the water under the crab to swoop it up. There will be more misses than captures, but that's half the fun. The crab must be at least 5 inches across from shell-tip to shell-tip before keeping. If the crab is shorter than 5 inches across, or if it has an orange, spongy mass underneath, release it as it is a female with eggs and is illegal to keep.

Best places for crabbing will be any saltwater pass, slough, roadside drainage ditch, or canal found along the coastal areas. Prime crabbing can be found along the Sabine river at Sabine Pass, Bolivar Peninsula's Rollover Pass, Galveston's Sea Wolf Park, the Clear Lake/Kemah/Seabrook area, Texas City Dike, Dickinson Bayou, the salt marsh areas around Hitchcock along I-45, San Luis Pass, Cold Pass, Christmas Tree Bay, just about all of the Galveston Bay system from East Bay to West Bay, the Inland Waterway that runs along leeward side of the Bolivar Peninsula, and any jetty or rock groin. My recommendation would be for the bayside of Rollover Pass and its marshy canals that run along the entry roads along the Intra-Coastal Waterway. I've seen some HUGE blue claws caught in the Rollover area that often measure 8 to 9 inches across the shell.

One vacationing group of kids were visiting with Pawpaw and Memaw spending their summer days crabbing for blue claws. Within but a short time they loaded up a cooler full of blue-claws from surrounding waters, which would help enhance their seafood feast for the evenings meal. Crabbing is a family oriented sport that can provide both an exciting day of fun in the sun as well as an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. From now through September crabbing along the Texas Gulf coast will be active and plentiful.

I remember from my earliest Texas days spending summers in the saltwater bayous filling wicker baskets with unruly crabs. It was a time of war where we all chipped in for the evenings meal served up country style. So while dad was fighting in the Pacific with Mom packing parachutes at the McAllen Army Air base, my brother and I would spend our time in Laguna Bayous providing for the military families of our soldiers. We all would meet at the community table where seafood and crabs became our sunday repast. Fond memories from the good times.

Figure at least two to three crabs per person for a meal and keep them alive in a cooler as you MUST discard any dead crabs as being totally unfit for human consumption. In a large boiling pot, fill with freshwater to about 2/3rds full and bring to a rolling boil. You can either add sea-salt or a marketed crab-boil seasoning (recommended). Place live crabs in the pot and allow to re-boil. Take pot off heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Place newspaper over your dining, patio, or picnic table. Drain the cooked crabs and dump them on the table. Place some dipping bowls of purified lemon butter around the table for the crab meat and you have a finger food feast extraordinaire. Remove the shell and scoop out the white crab meat (anything grey or yellowish is inedible) crack the claws with pliers and squeeze the meat out (the claw meat is the "filet de Jour" of the crab) the only other item needed to enhance the incredible flavors of your crab feast would be an ice cold beverage of your choice ..."Bon appetite!"

This article sponsored by; Miss Nancy's Bait Camp- Stingaree Marina & Bait Camp- Crystal Beach Local News- The Beach Triton- Fishingworld.Com-

Info Guide; Texas Parks & Wildlife- Fond Memories-
Double your trouble - double your fun.
Photo by Ed Snyder
Kids having fun boxing their catch of crabs.
Photo by Ed Snyder