I recently purchased a crab pot and went crabbing using my SUP! Following tips from a fishing guide friend and learning while doing, here’s 14 tips for paddle board crabbing.
- Get a light collapsible crab pot that can be easily carried on your board or in-car before/after use. I got this one. Note many of the cage door clips broke when we were trying to figure how to use the pot. So we attached the doors closed with bungees and little carabiners.
- Get lead rope to the approx depth of where you’ll be dropping it. My friend suggested 100′ of line, but the spot I first put my pot in was 30′ deep so I used 30′ of rope. Lesson learned – we lost the pot during a storm surge. * Use 100′ of line.
- Make sure to securely attach the rope to the pot. I figured to the side was best to easier hoisting up. That did work. I find many loose buoys and crab pots in Puget Sound which get caught up in sea life.
- Get a bait box and secure to the middle bottom of the pot leaving crab doors free. I used velcro straps.
- Crab food: Use chicken drumsticks, salmon scraps, herring, turkey necks. Chicken worked well for us. Think about a mesh bag inside the bait box in case your scraps fall through the bait box wires.
- Get legal – Purchase a crab license.
- Use garden or leather gloves to haul up the rough surfaced lead line. My NRS Maverick gloves worked well for keeping my hands warm and for pulling up the line.
- Figure out which board would be best for hauling out and if you need to secure the crab pot to your board. I felt a flat decked surf style board was best vs a displacement board. Having leash plugs or D-rings on the deck is helpful.
- Secure the pot to the board deck – I used a large carabiner to secure to a D-Ring on the nose of my inflatable so that it wouldn’t slide off while paddling out and in. I had to go through light surf and swell. Then had to worry about where the line and buoy would sit. I have experience hauling race buoys in/out so had some idea about securing the line.
- If launching in surf or a steep beach, have a friend ready to help you haul the crab pot and/or SUP up from the surf zone. When I timed for small wave sets to get in, I found myself in a pickle with large sets coming and was unable to haul the pot and board further up the steep beach. My partner Christy helped me the second time.
- Bring your crab measuring tool out if you don’t plan on hauling the pot to the beach. Use a bucket to haul the crabs in. For us newbies, we had to use the reg manual to determine male from female (can only keep males).
- Have a plan in place to deal with the caught crabs once onshore. YouTube has a few options, see below.
- Clean your gear with fresh water after use.
- Get pics and send to the sup board companies. They’d love to see your efforts using their gear!
- Enjoy paddle board crabbing!
Additional Tips from Friends:
- Bungee a plastic bucket to your board to drop crabs in if you’re not bringing the pot back in for another go.
- Add weight to your pot so it doesn’t drift. I’ve had to chase mine down a twice in winds. I found a derelict commercial pot that had rebar welded in and was Very heavy. We may use it next season.
- Take a SUP surf class if you’re going through heavy surf. My spot can have 10′ close-out surf. Knowing how to time the waves and have a system for carrying the pot and/or bucket and 100′ of line without getting tangled is a skill in itself.
- Break up your crabs on the beach in your bucket with saltwater.
- Cook your crabs in saltwater.
Preparing your Crab for Cooking
Related articles on preparing and cooking crabs..