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Maryland is well known for its blue crabs. Catching blue crabs is a difficult challenge when you don't have the proper bait. It's all well and good having a fantastic crab trap. However, if you don't have the right bait, it will be all for nothing. If you want to catch a bushel of crabs, then use the right bait, which may be the foods humans like to eat, such as chicken and fish. Having the proper bait will attract a large number of crabs to your traps.
A chicken neck is a popular crab bait to use. It's very cheap, bony and full of flavor and its scent is perfect to attract crabs. Crab fisherman tie chicken necks inside their traps, as it's a sturdy enough bait that won't break apart or dissolve while it sits with the trap and is tossed around by the strong sea current. Chicken necks can last for significant periods, in some cases five to 10 days, before they need to be swapped out for fresh meat, according to the Blue Crab Information website. When setting your crab trap, try other human foods such as hot dogs, cheese or bacon. Anything that can carry an oily smell will improve your chances to attract crabs.
Fish is the bait of choice for commercial crabbers, according to the website Blue Crab Information. Some crab anglers use frozen fish as bait because it tends to break down (decompose) slower than fresh fish, which seems to attract more crabs. However, fresh mackerel, which are plentiful throughout the seas, can be caught and cut up and placed within a trap. A smart way to ensure that your bait is not removed from your crab trap by fish is through punching holes in a can of tuna with a knife. Insert the can within the trap and put the trap in the water. The smell will travel from the tuna can through the water and bring in fish as well as crabs. Small fish will not be able to get to the bait, nor crabs. However, crabs will enter the trap and will not be able to get out.
Unusual Crab Bait
"Chitlins," the intestines of a pig, catch crabs. Roadkill like a raccoon, rabbit, squirrel or other animal carcass can be placed within a trap. This bait may turn the stomach of most. However, each gives off a powerful odor in the water and will bring in the curious, such as fish as well as hungry crabs. Blue crabs love meat and if you don't want to send a great deal of money on prime rib or steak, use items that are readily available. Blue crab won't care whether it's prime-cut, as long as it's eatable meat.
Commercial crabbers on their traps use eels as bait, according to the website Blue Crab Information. These crab fisherman cut eels into 4-inch pieces and set them in their crab traps. Crabbers find eel useful for their toughness. To set a trap, insert a fishhook into the fleshy meat of an eel and then attach it to the inside walls of the trap. Normally, it will take an eel piece several weeks to decompose, all the while staying on the hook and giving off a foul scent. This helps crabbers who cannot check their traps every day, as the cut eel piece can stay within the trap for days or even weeks.
Trial and Error
Crab fishermen have many types of crab baits to choose from. It's all about trial and error: bait that may work in one location may not somewhere else. A crab angler must be innovative when it comes to find the best bait to attract the most crabs. Crab fisherman use plan uncomplicated baits that give off a funky smell that will bring a crab and lead to it enter their trap. Whatever you intend to use, make sure that you check with the local state fisheries for laws and regulations pertaining to crabs.
Thomas Ganio began writing in 2006 for the "Northern Virginia Daily," a community newspaper in Richmond, Va. As a freelance writer, he has also contributed to "The Maryland Springs Gazette" and the Parks and Recreation Department of Richmond County, Md. Ganio holds a Bachelor of Arts in social science and English from James Madison University.