Traps are the most common method used to catch crabs and building your own is relatively easy and inexpensive. Check your state's regulations for harvesting and visit your local tackle shop to obtain the supplies. States regulate the type of trap you can use to catch crabs, in terms of the maximum size and certain other specifications. The easy method is to build a standard crab trap, since the specifications satisfy state regulations. Other regulations such as daily limit may apply.
Items you will need
Galvanized 1-inch wire mesh
Measure and cut two, 6-foot sections of mesh. When you cut the mesh be sure to cut in the middle so that you have excess wire on both sides. These two pieces of mesh will serve as the shape of your box, which will measure 2 feet on each side -- the maximum dimensions allowed.
Make a square "U" shape out of one of your 6-foot pieces of mesh by measuring 2 feet on one side and bending it up to create a wall and then doing the same on the other side. The middle of the meshing serves as the floor. The end result is a floor and two walls in the shape of a U. Do the same with your other piece of mesh so that you have two U-shape pieces of mesh that measure 2 feet on each side.
Measure and cut a 2-foot-6-inch section of wire mesh. This will serve as the trap, also known as a parlor. Shape the parlor by standing on the left and right edges and pulling the middle up and forming it into a curve, or hump. Press the sides in to shape the parlor so that the very top of the curve measures 2 inches across and is flat, so that it looks square from the top.
Cut a 4-inch-by-1-inch section out of one side of the top of the parlor. Leave the first full mesh intact, so that there is one full mesh followed by a hole. This creates a funnel for the crabs to swim upward through in an effort to reach the bait. Repeat this step on the other side at the top of the parlor, again leaving one mesh intact. The end result is two funnels on each side of the top of the parlor.
Assemble the parlor by placing it inside one of the U-shape mesh pieces that you created and position it by lifting it 6 to 8 inches from the floor. Use your pliers to secure the parlor to the walls of the U shape mesh. Lay the mesh U shape on its side and take the other mesh U shape that you created and place it on the top so that it creates an enclosed mesh box. Use your pliers to secure the top and one side, but leave the other side unattached. The end result is an enclosed mesh box with a parlor and one side left unsecured so that the crab can get into the box.
Cut out escape rings if you're crabbing in a state that requires them. For example, in Florida you must have three unobstructed escape rings with a minimum diameter of 2.8 inches and one must be adjacent to the crab retaining chamber. This is so that small crabs can escape. Use your wire cutters to cut the rings and then fold the wire back so that it's not pointing out. Alternatively, you can purchase escape rings and install them.
- Using an illegal trap can cause you to incur a fine, which varies depending on the state. In Maryland, the maximum fine for the first offense is $1,000.
- Create a simple buoy out of Styrofoam or cork.
- Purchase a bait box made of sturdy material like polyethylene. Strap it in a good location such as the top corner and load it with fish heads, chicken or your preferred bait to catch some crab.
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