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Now certainly if you're British you likely just had a wave of nostalgia over the idea of Crabbing! I did when I thought this through certainly.
Crabbing is not only a great way to spend the afternoon at a rockey sea side or pier with your kids but I was thinking is actually a useful skill for survival. Nowadays you can catch a crab with a line with a bait filled bag on the end, super easy... And edible crabs line many shores across the world.
However you won't always have a bait shop nearby... So what are good baits to use when Crabbing?
Anything smelly! Though crabs can't smell (as we think about it) they are scavengers by nature and detect their food by "smelling" microscopic particles in the water. So something really stinky and rotten will generate more "smell" thus attracting more crabs!
I asked my wife about this - she's from the Chesapeake Bay area, and is the daughter of a Navy man who loves fishing, so she knows a few things about what bait to use for crabs.
Her recommendation is raw Turkey Neck - it's soft and has the right smell to attract crabs, and isn't quite as pungent to our own nose as rotten fish. Raw chicken will do too, or really any raw poultry, but ideally you want something tough enough that the crab won't tear it off, but not so firm that they won't be able to latch onto it.
They also leave the skin on - which seems to help keep the crab's claw stuck on the bait.
One thing I saw a lot of last time I went crabbing and apparently rage threw my net off the pier (I hold to the fact it slipped out my hand!) was people using left over cooked sausages cut into small chunks, or raw bacon again in small bits. They seemed to be fairly successful.
I am really surprised I haven't seen this answer yet, so I'll go ahead and toss this one in the mix. Cow lips are a very common and durable crab bait...especially if you do a lot of crabbing. If you keep them in brine, you can use them for a whole season and will continuously attract the crabs.
This is especially attractive to crabbers who use trot lines.
Meat, of any type except dead crabs, on a string or in a net bag. but be quick, a tug on the string and they book! Crab pots typically have a way of holding the bait so it can't be raided from the outside. either a shield or on the bottom.
When I was a kid my parents used to buy a bag of prawns when we were at the seaside. I got the heads to use as bait. The crabs almost went into a frenzy to get at the head and didn't let go even when they got above water.
A delicacy for the grownups and the crabs.
In the Lowcountry of South Carolina, we used turkey necks as bait. We'd tie the end of some narrow cord around a turkey neck, attach a few small fishing weights and toss if over the side of the boat or dock. Every few minutes, slowly pull up the line with a net at the ready. Toss the crabs into a cooler full of ice.
Crab Bait: Usually on the ocean, you will find a bait shop that has the remains of fish that have been fillet. They will be frozen with a wire through them to hang from the cage. Turkey legs are great also. Finally, who ever said to put bacon in a crab cage should be very careful! Bacon goes on everything and is very popular to the human race. By putting bacon in to a crab cage, you will most likely find local fisherman trapped in your cage.
I take a raw chicken and leave it in a lidded bucket in the garage for 2 to 3 days, along with a a good dose of fish sauce. Sometimes it gets so putrid, I can't use it without retching and gagging. I stuff the wretched concoction in a cage that's strapped to a 2 ring net.
For me. Chicken necks tied on a string. Crabs will hold onto them till pulled very close to shore were you dip net them with a flat or strait nose dipnet. Also in box traps the pull up kind if in a boat. Were the sides lay out flat. Or form a pyramid. S Pacific.
There are lots of options - the most popular seem to be rotting fish and chicken parts. In a pinch, dog or cat food seems to also work though it's not quite as effective as the alternatives. The general rule is the smellier the better. You can also try a variety of crab attractants which are made from concentrated fish parts and are extremely smelly. They can drastically increase the amount of crabs your trap/pot/snare can attract by spreading a pungent scent far and wide. Source: Crabsman