Let’s face it, nothing beats the joy of tucking into lip-smacking delicious fresh crabs straight out of the ocean! And you don’t have to pay for expensive in-season crabs if you know the best times for crabbing.
Four of the best times for crabbing this year are between high and low tides (in slack water), when crabs are foraging when water temperatures are higher, and when no rain is predicted. Including during the peak crabbing season from September this year when crabs have filled out.
Even though crabbing may sound relatively straightforward, that is unfortunately not always the case. So, read on if you want to know the best times for crabbing this year and when the conditions are ideal for catching bucketloads of crabs – in one day!
The 4 Best Times To Go Crabbing
Before we delve into the best time to catch all types of crabs, it’s essential to note that your state’s fishing season dates may differ.
Thus, always consult with your local fishing authorities (like ours in Georgia) and determine their legal requirements before you sink that crab pot.
So, with that said, here is a breakdown of the ideal times to go crabbing, including a comprehensive overview of this year’s prime crabbing season.
Between High And Low Tides
Slack water or slack tides are ideal as the crabs are not knocked about by strong tide currents, so they typically forage around the shoreline. So, your chance of catching a few bucket loads is far higher.
Although, it’s essential to check your area’s tide chart and to ensure that your crab trap pots or baiting traps are ready at least 1-2 hours before high tide and 1 or 2 hours after high tide.
When Water Temperatures Are Higher
Another essential factor to consider is the water temperature, as crabs are much less active in cold weather conditions. Thus, the ideal time to go crabbing is when water temperatures rise between 65- and 75 degrees F.
When No Rain Is Predicted
Avoid crabbing after heavy rainfall, even if the weather conditions and tide seem ideal, as crabs are far less abundant the day after a big downpour.
During Crabbing Season
Even though it is technically possible to go crabbing all year round, the peak crabbing season for all species is between September and January next year.
Crabs are more abundant during the peak season when they have spawned, and if you are lucky enough to be in the right state, the crabbing season may stretch well into July this year.
Although the crabbing season varies significantly from region to region, there are times of the year when crabs tend to be more abundant than others.
To illustrate this point, you can go crabbing in southern states like South Carolina and Florida throughout the year. While the crabbing season in states like Maine and Alaska is far more short-lived as it starts in October and runs till spring when average temperatures climb.
In some states like Maryland, the prime crabbing season is during warmer periods from April to November, not in winter when crabs are less mobile and enter their dormant phases.
The most suitable time to go crabbing for soft-shell crabs is from May until September this year. And it’s worth crabbing during that time as they can be costly if you go to a fish market or order them in a restaurant.
Soft shell crabs typically range from medium-sized crabs up to four inches to “whale size” crabs that are nearly six inches in size.
The best time for hard-shell crabs is during the beginning of fall, mainly because crabs are typically larger from September to the end of October and contain more crab meat. Although, some hard-shell crabs do not always migrate in the wintertime.
Crabs are typically meatier and filled out in the fall, especially at the beginning of September, when they tend to have a far higher crabmeat percentage.
And there is a big difference between the meat content of crabs. While soft-shelled crabs may only contain 12% meat, hard-shelled crab species are much more generous, with an average 20-30% meat percentage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Better To Go Crabbing At Night Or Day?
Crabs, especially blue crabs, are more active at night when hunting for food on the shoreline and typically let their guard down more. During the daytime, they hide away amongst rocks and weeds.
Although it is illegal to go crabbing at night in some states. So, check with your local fishing authorities before venturing out in the evenings.
Alternatively, go crabbing at sunrise. That way, you don’t have to crawl around with a flashlight at 2 in the morning in the freezing cold.
What Is The Best Time To Catch Blue Crabs?
Virginia’s Maryland blue crabbing season is typically from March or April until the end of November and from April until mid-December.
The meatiest blue crabs are available from September until mid-November during the fall months.
What Is The Best Bait For Crabbing?
Fresh bait is always the best for crabbing, especially chicken, shad, fish carcasses, clams, mink, or herring. However, sea lions and seals are also attracted to your crab rings, inviting bait.
Use bait they don’t consume, like turkey or chicken, or solid pots to protect your bait from unwanted guests.
What Is The Best Weather To Go Crabbing?
Crabs prefer warm but not hot water, with temperatures ranging from 70-75 degrees F during late spring and early summer. Including towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall when temperatures are moderately warm.
What Is The Best Time Of Day To Go Crabbing In New Jersey?
The early morning hours from 4:30 to 8:30 AM are ideal for crabbing in New Jersey. Crabs tend to be far more active during the early morning.
Blue crabs are more abundant in the Delaware Bay area and its tributaries from April 6 until roughly December 4. So, that’s the ideal time to fully use nature’s bounty this year.
The four best times for crabbing this year are between high and low tides when water temperatures are higher, no rain is predicted, and during the peak crabbing season from September. Although, it’s essential to review your state’s fishing season details, as opening and closing dates may vary.