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When the salt-spray scent of the Georgia coast sets your taste buds yearning for fresh seafood, create a fun family adventure and catch some crabs to cook up. Crabbing is at its best during the summer months when the creatures head to shallow water to spawn. A Georgia fishing license and a few basic pieces of equipment are all you'll need to get your crab fishing expedition underway.
Sink Like a Stone
Stone crabs get their name from their appearance as they lie burrowed just beneath the mud in estuaries and seagrass beds. Stone crabs are commonly harvested for their claws, and the recommended fishing practice is to remove the largest claw at the elbow joint and return the crab to the water. Before removing the claw, make sure it measures at least 2.75 inches from the elbow joint to the end of the immovable part of the claw.
Singing the Blues
Capture blue crabs whole to relish their rich back fin and body meat as well as the claws. Measure each blue crab you catch at the spike that protrudes out from each side of its body to make sure the body is at least 5 inches wide. Mature female crabs measuring 3 to 5 inches -- known as peelers -- are also legal to harvest, providing they do not have a sponge-like mass of eggs under their bodies.
Catch as Catch Can
Fish for blue or stone crabs year-round at any time of day with a valid Georgia fishing license. It is lawful to catch crabs in a variety ways in the state of Georgia. You may use up to six 2 foot by 2 foot crab traps at a time, provided you mark each with a fluorescent green float with your name and address. Lift rings are another easy way to catch crabs. Simply secure your bait box inside a netted ring and lower to the bottom of the waterway. If there are crabs in the area, they'll begin to gather around the bait box within 10 to 15 minutes. The crabs are captured in the net as you raise the ring back to the surface. Chicken netting involves tying a piece of decaying chicken to the end of a pole and scooping up crabs that come to feast on it with a long-handled dip net.
Where to Go Crabbing
Tybee Island, 20 minutes east of Savannah, is one of Georgia's most prolific crabbing areas, and all beaches are open to the public. Head for rock jetties on the far south end of the island near the mouth of the Wilmington River, as well as the jetties on the northern part of the island. Along Georgia's central coast, the small town of Darien nestles among tidal estuaries and marshes favored by crabs in warm months. Jekyll Island lies 28 miles south of Darien, with blue crabs populating creeks, estuaries and ocean waters surrounding the island. In the far southern part of the state, Cumberland National Seashore has marshes where you'll find both blue and stone crabs.
Indulging her passion for wide open spaces and outdoor fitness through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, author Jodi Thornton-O'Connell takes the mystery out of outdoor skills and guides readers to discover fun ways to physically connect to natural surroundings.