August 6, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC - Don’t want to spend a lot but still expand the things your family does? How would you like to have something that is entertaining and exciting for the entire family and will only cost $14? Remember all the times you took the kids fishing and the crabs would steal the bait? It’s time to get even! Go crabbing! Kids and parents have a ball and at the end of the adventure – some great food!
There are many ways to catch crabs. Our favorite is to with a two ring wire mesh crab basket. Available at local hardware, sporting goods, bait stores and even some beach stores, you shouldn’t have any problem finding one or two. They cost $9.95 each and provide an economical and fun entry into the crabbing business. By the way, $9.95 will buy a plastic coated wire basket that you can use over and over.
Nest on your list is a ball of string – about 68 cents. Add some chicken parts (legs, wings, etc.) for about 79 cents per pound. Three pieces should do the trick – 99 cents. They last a long time even when encountering crabs with veracious appetites. No fishing license is required with this method.
Now, don’t forget to bring your cooler, some ice and let’s go!
Our favorite place for crabbing is Vereen Memorial Gardens a hundred acre woodlands and salt marsh one mile south of the SC State line right after the Little River Township off Hwy 17 N.
It’s ideal with two miles of wooden boardwalks traversing salt water marshes. Plenty of shaded parking, shaded trails, picnic tables, shelters, rest rooms, benches and even a play area with swings for when the young ones get tired of the excitement of crabbing. BTW, bring along some mosquito spray. While the breeze generally keeps them away, we always believe in being conservative and putting an application on us and the kids.
Pick a spot where a boardwalk crosses over a tidal creek. Settle in and find the side of the boardwalk where the tide is flowing outward from the boardwalk not in towards the boardwalk. You don’t want the tidal action to take the bait under the boardwalk where you can’t watch over it. As the tide changes you may have to switch sides.
Now, take the string and tie it securely to a chicken piece. Lower the chicken into the water till it settles on the bottom with enough slack to let it move five or ten feet with the tide. Tie the stringed chicken to a railing.
At this point you should have already decided upon a ‘kid strategy.’ While this kind of crabbing can be done by one person, it’s more fun if one person is manning the chicken string and the other the wire basket. We’ve found that at times all the kids want their individual chicken strings and we wind up manning the basket. But once the challenge of manning the bucket becomes obvious, the kids will want to take turns.
Once a tug is felt on the chicken string, the crabber pulls the bait and crab close to the wire bucket. The bucketeer has to have the wire bucket well under water for the crabber to maneuver the bait and crab over it. Coordination is critical. The crabber can’t move too fast or the crab will drop off. The bucketeer can’t move the wire bucket too fast or scare the crab.
Kids will scream with delight when they are wrestling with one, two, three or more crabs going after and hanging onto the bait. When successful, the crabs will have been maneuvered over the wire bucket; the bucket raised, trapping the crab, hauled in and dumped into the cooler. Don’t make the mistake a lot of beginners do and put them in water. They will die quickly. Dead crabs spoil quickly.
It is not unusual to catch twenty to thirty in a couple of hours – depends upon how coordinated the bucketteer and the crabber are.
As you do this, crab responsibly. Any crab with a point to point width of less than 5 inches should be returned to the water. Any female blue crab with egg mass (looks like a sponge underneath) should be returned to the water unharmed.
What to do now? Will, lets cook them. Vereen Gardens has no facilities for cooking, so it’s back to your home, condo or vacation cottage to prepare them. Make sure you have the cooking equipment you need. Some rentals will have a large double boiler knowing that their clients like to steam shrimp or crabs. A double boiler is ideal for cooking crabs because it allows crabs to be steamed and not boiled – our preferred method. If your rental is not equipped, local stores will have small 19 quart ones for $25 to $30.
First, sort through the crabs. They’ll be cold and unmoving. Put them in a sink and spray them down, removing as much grime as possible. At the same time, the crab will warm up and start moving. Discard those not moving. Dead crabs spoil rapidly. Next you need to kill the crab. They will still be slow moving so you can grab them from the rear without running afoul of the pincers. The claws can’t reach backwards. Flip the crab over and lift the flap on the underside and stick a sharp knife through the small hole that is revealed.
Wait until the water boils in the lower pot, and then place the crabs in the upper pot. Cooking takes 20 to thirty minutes producing a well-cooked crab with an orange color and firm white meat.
Time to eat! Spread plenty of newspaper on a table and follow this YouTube video by kahl777.