Gone Outdoors

Do You Crab During High or Low Tide?

by Sara Gates

Crabbing is the practice of catching crabs in the ocean, usually by means of a net, crab trap or crab pot. It is popular in locations on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S., including Oregon, Northern California and Maryland. While crabbing is not difficult, conducting a research into the ideal places and time to catch crabs is useful. One consideration is the levels of the ocean's tides.

Tide Definition

Tides occur due to the gravitational pull of the moon on the earth's oceans.

Tides are the movement of water in the oceans -- the rising and falling of the ocean's surface -- that the gravitational effects of the moon on the earth cause. When it is high tide, a higher level of water reaches toward the shore. When it is low tide, water levels are lower. The time just around high or low tide is called slack tide, and generally lasts from one to three hours, depending on location.

Crabs and the Tides

Crabs spend their time crawling along the bottoms of bays, estuaries and oceans, and tend to move along with the tide. For crabbers, this can drastically affect the likelihood of success in a catch, since the feeding behavior and location of crabs change along with the tide. Crabs tend to be most active, and therefore easiest to catch, when a water body has some movement of water but not an extremely strong current.

Slack Tide

Most crabbing enthusiasts agree that the ideal time to crab is during slack tide, the time just around or after a high or low tide. The reason is that during slack tide, crabbers can reach deeper levels of water from a pier or seashore than at low tide. This time provides some current movement to carry the chemical "smells" of bait, but not so much movement that crabs are unable to crawl about the ocean floor easily without being carried away.

Other Considerations

The likelihood of a successful crabbing trip depends on the time of year and geographic location. In the Pacific Northwest and mid-Atlantic coast, crabbing is most common during the mating season in the late summer and early fall. Summer is a popular time for crabbing in Mississippi. In any case, crabbers should ensure they have the proper licenses and knowledge of crabbing guidelines, such as gender or size restrictions on certain species of crabs.

About the Author

Sara Gates has been a freelance writer since 2009. Her work has been featured at numerous online outposts, primarily in the areas of travel and finer living. After years of working in the hospitality industry, she loves to share her expertise and enthusiasm regarding travel, food and hotels through her writing.

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