TopKayaker.Net: Guide To Kayak Fishing

Yes Virginia, You Can Crab From A Kayak
by Mike Bosarge - President, Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association

Blue crabEvery saltwater fisherman has had this problem when fishing Mobile Bay. You've got something heavy on the line, it's not fighting, but it's hanging on and heavy to pull in. A hang up? Nope, it's one of those big blue crabs that Mobile is known for.

Now what do you do? Well, many anglers dangle the rod in the air hoping he'll drop off while others scoop a net underneath and hope to catch more. If crabs are what you're after, there's an easier way to fill the freezer than using cut bait, dead shrimp or a gulp.

I've been crabbing from my kayak for nearly two years now and have tried most methods stinkpots use to catch crabs. Within that time, there have been lessons learned - some the hard way and others through common sense.

Alabama State Law

If you're crabbing in Alabama, you've got recreational crabbing laws you must follow.

  • First: Have your Alabama Fishing license. That's a giveme for most of us.

  • Second: You may only have 5 traps and those must be marked with a 6 inch orange buoy and have a 2 inch permanently attached R on the buoy. This marks your trap as recreational.

  • Third: You are not allowed to crab north of the Causeway or 1-10 whichever is the farthest south. Basically, don't crab the delta.

  • Fourth: Crabs cannot be smaller than 5 inches from tip to tip. Anything smaller has to be released.

While there are other Alabama recreational crabbing laws, these are the main ones. For further information and areas to crab, see www.outdooralabama.com

Crab Traps

Hoop NetOne thing we all have in common with crabbing from a kayak is limited space. So choosing your trap or traps is an important choice.

  • Hoop Net
    For many kayak and seawall crabbers this is the crab trap/net of choice. It's cheap, easy to maintain and takes up little room.

    The problems I've had with the hoop net is that the frame bends easily. This leads to buying more than a few extras throughout the year to keep just one functioning properly.

  • Crab Pot Photo courtesy of Chuck EspirituCrab Pots
    The crab pot is the choice of your commercial crabbers and dock owners. Large, bulky and able to stay in the water for ages without a large amount of the crabs escaping, if any. For the kayaker crab pots can be carried on bow mounts or in your tankwell. Just remember this: You'll need a stable kayak with all the twisting, lifting and rigging you'll need to work with.

  • Pyramid Traps
    Star TrapThe pyramid trap is my choice for the recreational kayak angler. It's cheap, metallic and easy to work with. The pyramid, or star trap folds up flat and doesn't bend after transport or continued use. I just attach mine to about 15 ft of rope and sit it behind my seat. When I'm ready to fish, I tie the bait inside and drop it over the side. It opens up automatically when it hits the bottom and I'm ready to fish.

Crab Bait

Okay, this is a gimme, but I figured I'd better cover it for those who've never crabbed before. You've got two choices - Chicken necks or fish. I usually use a small croaker that I'll catch while fishing. Just cut it a few times so it's bloody and tie it in the bottom of your trap. Chicken necks work just a well. But hey, the croaker is free!

Crabbing from your Yak

As I stated earlier, I just attach a line to my trap and drop it over the side while it's attached to my yak.Yet I've also run 5 traps at a time. For the serious crabber, this the way you're going to get gallons of crabs to bring home.

I will set my traps about 50 feet apart with the buoys floating. Remember, don't drop your trap among the commercial crab traps or they'll run over them. Find an open area where no one's crabbing. Check your traps as you feel. But do it often. If you're not using crab pots the crabs will eat and leave. This will require a lot of paddling back and forth. Which means less time fishing. I've found using one trap hanging on my yak works just as well and I bring home crabs and fish. I'm also not as tired from paddling all day and pulling traps 5 traps every 30 minutes.

At the price of crabmeat, catching your own crabs is more than fun; it gives you ingredients for gumbo or a large crab boil. So try it!


"Outfitting A Kayak For Crabbing"by Chuck Espiritu

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