Crabs are omnivorous meaning they will have a taste for algae, plankton, and fungi in a natural environment but on the meat side, they’ll eat whatever they can get their blue tip claws on. They mostly are attracted to and love to scavenge dead rotted fish and other natural foods. What is the best bait to use for a Blue Crab Trap?
Depending on the Region & Species the best Blue Crab Trap Baits need to attract Crab into the Trap:
Rotted & Smelly fish
Chunks of Bunker or Spots
Cat food /Dog food
Razor Clams (they live with Crabs)
Chicken or Turkey necks
Hot Dogs (Frozen)
Crab Attractant (Smelly Jelly)
There are more than 4,000 species of crabs found in the world, most of which live the bulk of their lives on the bottom of the ocean and bay floors where these carnivorous creatures eat just about anything they can get their claws on and if you are fishing for them, the worst rotted and foul-smelling bait the better.
How to Bait a Crab Trap
Crabs are found in saltwater back bays and marshes bays, inlets, and the ocean that includes brackish water also known as tidal water. Crabs also prefer to be near underwater structures such as pilings, docks, and bulkheads along the water usually.
If you are visiting areas where crabs live or are lucky enough to live along these tidal waterfronts, crab traps are an easy way to harvest these crustaceans for a delicious food source.
Some traps are made from wire mesh, and foldable and some can contain Eco-Friendly Bio-Degradable EVA float and measuring gauge that is necessary to stay in crabbing requirements.
Look for a Crab Trap PVC that’s made from coated wire mesh Two T.E.D.Turtle Excluder Devices attached to the cage which are normally orange in color are used to allow for safely releasing turtles from the cage.
Baiting your Crab Trap or Crab Pot is not very complicated and any type of fish or other will do as long as it is a reasonable size smelly and repulsive to you.
A few types of fish commonly used are Atlantic Menhaden, sold as common Bunker, and trash fish like stingrays. The fish can be better utilized by cutting it into pieces. Leave the bait out in the sun for a little while. Make sure that there are cuts on the fish so that the smell will easily travel through the water.
Best Bait for Blue Crab Traps
Crabs can’t see very well and really can’t see their prey until they are right on top of them. Their minimal sense of smell guides them to food even though they don’t have noses. Instead, they use chemoreception as their method of smell.
Chemoreceptors are basically smelled organs located on their antennae, and on other parts of their body, which they use to pick up the scent of food in the water. Then they follow the scent that will eventually lead them to the meal.
Smelly rotted dead fish can attract crabs on the deepest ocean floor or in the shallows off a pier in the bay, marshes, or inlets, and anywhere you wouldn’t want to take off your shoes and walk through the water.
Crabs will eat anything that appears on the bottom floor. However, it would be easier for you to attract more crabs if you have an attractable bait. It will vary where you are in the Country so when in Rome do what the Romans do go to a Bait & Tackle Store and ask them because they know.
- In New Jersey its Chicken necks
- Cat food & Dog food (I hear but never used I do know it smells like hell)
- Razor Clams (they live with Crabs)
- Turkey necks
- Hot Dogs (Frozen)
- Crab Attractant (Smelly Jelly)
How Does a Crab Trap Work
I’m from the New Jersey bay area where Crabbing for Blue Claw is a big business. Traps that don’t need to be monitored are officially considered Crab Pots and can sit unattended in the water for hours on end while working the tides. This is the most successful way to harvest them especially if you live there. Follow the laws and regulations of each state you are living in.
Crabs are able to enter the crab pot but once they are in they cannot get out. You need a crabbing license to use a crab pot in New Jersey. That’s the difference. You can purchase one for NJ cheap online at the NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Around 47% of Crabbing is done by Boat and over 53% is done from shore and piers. The average catch per trip is 15.5 Crabs per resident. The peak recreational season for Crabbing is done in July-August in the summer. The average size of a Blue Crab from New Jersey is 5.2 inches but the big guys come out from October to December when the water is still warm.
The Crab pots are designed to allow Crabs to come in but not let them out. This is achieved by careful positioning of the bait and attracting the Crab through the sides of the entrance to the cage.
Pots can be made of any size and different shapes according to the application though there are some regulations for overall size, net entrance hole size, and requirements for organic escape hatches or breakaways so crabs can escape if the pot is left untended.
Once inside the Crab Trap, crabs can eat the bait, which is hung in the center of the pot. After they are full, they continue to look for a way out, crawling all over the trap but never out. As more crabs crawl in, the trap fills up. Most pots use a large inside area and can accommodate a large number of crabs. Some will use a number of entrances on all sides of the pot, as well, so more crabs can get inside the pot faster.
Two ends have lead-ins that angle into the trap from the sides and bottom to a narrow slit about 2 feet into the pot. This slit is the only entrance into the trap. The crabs realize they must crawl up the leads to get to their free meal. When they crawl through the narrow entrance slit, which is just wide enough for them to crawl through, they fall to the floor of the trap.
It is impossible for the crabs to jump or climb back up to the entrance slit to get out of the trap since it is suspended off the floor of the trap. I used this type of trap and normally would check it after high tide or every 8 hours or so.