Family Activities, Fishing & Crabbing

Crabbing on a pier with crab nets for beginners

If you’re looking for an affordable family friendly outdoor activity that your kids will enjoy, then continue reading my article about crabbing on a pier with crab nets for beginners.

Below is a video for my Fort Baker Moore Road Pier crabbing review, it is an example of crabbing on a pier using a crab net. You can view my review at Fort Baker Moore Road Pier Crabbing Review.

Note, you’ll want to review the California Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations for all updated rules. If you plan to cook and eat crab you catch, you should first conduct your own research regarding crab consumption guidelines and advisories.

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What is crabbing?

Crabbing is where you use a net, cage or snare to catch crabs. Crabs are typically much easier to catch, hence it can be an activity that is more fun for younger kids.

Crabbing is slow paced in that you put your crab trap in the ocean, wait for 10-20 minutes, then pull your trap in and collect the crabs. Note, you may not catch crabs every time, but typically you’ll catch something during your outing.

Young kids are typically fascinated by seeing the crabs and most kids like the taste of crabs and butter. My kids love crabbing and love eating the crab we catch. Note, you’ll want to conduct your own research to your satisfaction regarding catching, cooking and eating crabs in the specific area you’re crabbing in.

Types of crabbing

There are generally three types of crabbing: surf crabbing, pier crabbing and boat crabbing. Surf crabbing is my favorite type of crabbing where you use an ocean fishing rod (10-12 feet long) and cast a crab snare into the ocean from the shore. See picture below. But, surf crabbing is typically not kid friendly because casting a crab snare into the ocean using a 10 foot ocean fishing rod is usually too difficult for most young kids. If you’d like to learn more about surf crabbing, check out my article Surf crabbing with crab snares for beginners.

Crab snare

Boat crabbing is where you drop round or square cages (aka crab pots) into the ocean using a boat. After you drop the cage into the ocean you leave, then return many hours later or even a day later to check if trap has caught any crabs. I’ve seen other people drop their cages in the ocean using a boat, but I’ve never done it personally. You can use a crab cage on the pier, but they are typically too heavy for kids to pull out of the water. And, you usually leave cages in the water for a longer period of time…so not as interactive or exciting for small kids.

Square crab cage (aka crab pot)

Pier crabbing is where you drop a crab snare, round/square trap or a crab net (aka hoop trap, crab ring, etc. ) into the ocean from a pier. See picture of a crab net below. Crabbing with a crab net is the most kid friendly because they can participate in pulling the crab net out of the water, catching the crabs and putting them in a bucket. My kids really enjoy crabbing using a crab net. See picture below.

Crab net (aka crab ring)

Pier crabbing and equipment

What I’m going to discuss in this article is crabbing on a pier using a crab net for beginners. It is the easiest, cheapest and most family friendly of the types of crabbing.

I’ve tried all three types of equipment when crabbing on piers and in my opinion crab snares are the most effective. But, kids love to participate and the crab net is the most kid friendly of the three types of crab traps.

So, if you decide to go with crab nets for your crabbing equipment, all you need to buy is a crab net, bait cage, bucket, harness, rope and zip ties. Zip ties are used to tie the bait cage to the small crab ring. Some people buy more than one crab net so they can alternate pulling up them up. Below is the equipment I purchased and works well for me and my family:

Promar 32-Inch Lobster and Crab Net – https://amzn.to/3baOcFK (Includes harness and rope)

Promar Wire Bait Cage – https://amzn.to/3jW5kDl

5 Gallon Bucket (6-Pack) – https://amzn.to/2Ncyfaa

Cable Zip Ties – https://amzn.to/3arxQcB

Crabbing bait

As for crab bait, my wife likes to use many different types of bait at the same time. She likes the following types of bait:

  • Chicken
  • Fish heads from grocery store and/or sardines
  • Chicken liver
  • Shrimp
  • Squid

Other equipment you may need

Knife and small cutting board – For cutting the bait and the fishing line too. I have a Camillus Carbonitride Titanium folding knife, it’s relatively inexpensive and durable. I also purchased a leather case that can attach to my belt so I don’t have to reach into my pockets with wet or bait covered hands. See links below.

Camillus Carbonitride Titanium Folding Knife – https://amzn.to/3qxa2tv

Leather Sheath for Folding Knife Sheath – https://amzn.to/3puRNUr

Disposable latex gloves (or fancier gloves like the one my wife is wearing in the picture above) – Some people, like my wife, prefer to wear gloves when handling the crab bait.

They come in with pink, blue, or red accents, see link below. My wife bought the pink gloves, but I just use my hands to insert bait, then rinse hands with water and wipe with rag.

Berkley Fishing Gloves – https://amzn.to/2N6bJzR

5 gallon buckets with lid and rope – Storage for the crabs you catch. If you want to place crabs in sea water, then you’ll need a rope if you’re crabbing from a pier or steep shore. You’ll want to put the lid on during transport home to minimize smell. Check with your state’s regulatory department regarding transportation of crabs or fish. See links below for bucket we use.

Home Depot 5 Gallon Buckets – https://amzn.to/2LYgt9V

Promar NE-100 Poly Crab Line, 100-Feet – https://amzn.to/2ZwqBtz

Light – Camping flashlight, lantern and work light if you’re fishing at dawn or dusk or at night. See links below to purchase. Check out my reviews on flashlight, lantern and work light, click here.

Duracell Durabeam Ultra LED Flashlight 500 Lumens – https://amzn.to/3ua18ob

LitezAll 2000 Lumen Camping Lantern – https://amzn.to/37ok74y

Sanlinkee LED Rechargeable Work Light – https://amzn.to/3jXEvOO

Tap water – I usually bring a gallon of tap water for washing hands.

Rags – For wiping hands after touching bait.

Bathrooms – Some crabbing sites don’t have bathrooms or the bathrooms present are really bad. If the bathrooms are bad, you may want to carry toilet paper and seat covers with you. If you prefer not to use public bathrooms or there are none, you may want to invest in a portable toilet. See links below for options that my family uses.

When we are doing a day trip, we usually go with the toilet seat cover or the Reliance Products Fold-to-Go Collapsible Portable Toilet because they take up less space in the SUV. We use the Hike Crew Advanced Portable Outdoor Camping and Travel Toilet when we go on camping trips.

Toilet Seat Covers Disposable – https://amzn.to/3ariFQQ

Reliance Products Fold-to-Go Collapsible Portable Toilet – https://amzn.to/3ar63Jw

Reliance Double Doodie Toilet Waste Bag 6 Pack – https://amzn.to/37nxOk1

Hike Crew Advanced Portable Outdoor Camping and Travel Toilet – https://amzn.to/2ZnXHMb

WolfWise Pop Up Privacy Tent – https://amzn.to/2M3AUCy

Fishing permit – I typically buy my annual fishing permit from Big 5 Sporting Goods store. I believe stores like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods sell them too, call before you go.

Note, you’ll want to check with your state’s department that regulates fishing and crabbing to learn about crabbing season dates, species specific size requirements, bag limits, etc.

Camping chairs – You’ll want to get good camping chairs since you’re mostly sitting waiting to pull in your crab snares. Below are the chairs we use on the beach. They are sturdy and have a small cooler built into the arm rest.

Coleman Portable Camping Quad Chair – https://amzn.to/2LY4Q2M

Wagon – If your crabbing spot is far from your car, you may need to bring a collapsible wagon for carrying your equipment and supplies to your crabbing spot. Here is a link to highly rated and affordable collapsible wagon:

Mac Sports CAMO Mac Wagon – https://amzn.to/3pw1EsO

Note, you’ll want to review the California Department of Fish & Wildlife regulations for all updated rules. Each state has different laws regarding minimum size requirements and bag limits, so check with your state’s regulatory department for more information. Also, each state has different crabbing seasons and locations where crabbing is allowed, so again check with your state’s regulatory department.

Hope you found this article “Crabbing on a pier with crab nets for beginners” helpful, happy crabbing!

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