Jersey Shore Crab – Seafood for all!
If you are a seafood fan, make crabbing part of your plans when you visit the Jersey Shore! Blue crabs especially are a New Jersey favorite and are known up and down the Atlantic Coast for both unique coloring and delicious taste. Crabbing is a sport for the whole family — relatively inexpensive, easy, and rewarding for recreational crabbers of all ages.
In New Jersey, crabbing accounts for nearly a third of all fishing activity. Blue crabs are abundant all along the Jersey coast, in creeks and rivers, and in saltwater bays. Whether you choose to crab from a small boat or from the bank or pier, you can expect excellent crabbing at the Jersey shore.
Crabbing is incredibly easy. You can sink baited lines from a boat or the bank. Bunker and chicken necks are popular bait choices, but any fresh fish will work. If you’ve caught any fish recently, use the rack from the filleted fish as bait. Tie a six ounce sinker and large hook to around twenty feet of cord. Tie a short stick to the other end of the cord to secure the line on the bank. The stick also works well for wrapping and storing the cord when you’re done for the day. Start off with five lines or so… move up to ten if you are comfortable with that many lines. Check the lines every few minutes. If you feel a crab tugging on the bait, bring the line in slowly until you can scoop up the grab with a long-handled net.
Using crab traps is just as easy as using lines. The same types of bait are used — bunker or any fresh fish, or chicken necks. You can choose from a wire or net trap; both are effective in catching crabs. Sink the traps and wait. Be sure to replace the bait every few hours. The repeated submersion will cause the bait to lose the odor that attracts the crabs.
If the water is shallow and clear, you can always wade around with a scoop net and try to pick up soft or shedding crabs. You may also be able to scoop up crabs from marsh banks and around bridge pilings.
However you catch your crabs, you can store them in a bushel basket with a lid. Keep the basket cool and out of direct sunlight and you can store them for at least a day. Don’t put your crabs in a bucket of water, or they will use up all the oxygen and drown. If you are transporting your crabs a long distance, put them in a cooler with ice.
Ready to prepare your crabs for feasting? Rinse them in fresh water, first. Crabs should be steamed or boiled live, so discard any dead ones. Drop them into a large pot of boiling water for eight to ten minutes — the shells will turn a bright red. If you like your crab to have a spicy flavor, add Old Bay seasoning to the water. Remove the crabs from the water and let them cool before picking out the meat.
Remove the carapace shell by lifting the apron and pulling forward. Rinse out the internal organs and gills. Snap off the mouth, legs, and claws. Save the claws — they’re the parts you want to eat. The other edible meat on the crab is inside the two thin-shelled compartments on either side of the body. Open the compartments with a knife; crack the claws with a knife or nutcracker. Crab meat spoils quickly, and must be refrigerated or frozen for storage as soon as possible.
And if all else fails in your crabbing efforts… you can always catch a different kind of blue claw: travel north into Ocean County and check out the Lakewood Blueclaws minor league baseball team.