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Anyone Blue Crab in the St Johns?

Anyone on here go crabbing for blue crabs in the St. Johns?

I'm from MD and crabbing is a way of life up there. We do things a bit differently then the guys I have seen down here. I have contacted the FWC about our methods and make sure I understood the regs and they stated everything I want to do is legal here.

Finding active crabbers is hard online, although I see a lot of traps out in the waters and them for sale locally.
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Replies

  • Cast_N_BlastCast_N_Blast JaxPosts: 1,437 Officer
    I have a couple traps off of my dock that I use for bait, but nothing serious. There is definitely no shortage of blues in the St Johns though!
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    Cast&Blast wrote: »
    I have a couple traps off of my dock that I use for bait, but nothing serious. There is definitely no shortage of blues in the St Johns though!

    Good to hear!

    I was challenged by some local fisherman/crabbers that the methods we use in the Chesapeake Bay will not work here, I look forward to giving it a try.
  • minnowsnmonstersminnowsnmonsters Posts: 391 Deckhand
    I've seen people locally using chicken necks,etc just like up north and they are successful from what I've seen.

    There are plenty of crabs here locally, but IMO they don't compare to Delmarva crabs quality in terms of meat density,etc. I grew up in southern DE and have eaten more blue crabs than I care to count, but the blue crabs I've had here aren't as consistent.
  • jimmy06jimmy06 Posts: 1,241 Officer
    Weber wrote: »
    Good to hear!

    I was challenged by some local fisherman/crabbers that the methods we use in the Chesapeake Bay will not work here, I look forward to giving it a try.

    So what are the methods you use there
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    jimmy06 wrote: »
    So what are the methods you use there

    We use trotline, which most people in the south equate that to a fishing trotline, but it is different.

    We run an anchor with a line to a buoy, then down to a chain on the bottom. It connects to a long line (MD max length for recreational crabbing is 1200') that sits on the bottom with baits tied on about every 3-6'. At the other end there is a chain and line just like you started with.

    You drive the boat next to the buoy and grab the line and connect it to the boat on what we call a "prop stick" we slowly drive down the line and the line comes up to the boat and over the prop stick back down to the bottom. As the line comes up the crabs are attached to the bait. We use a special metal net called a "dip net" that we net the crabs before they drop off.

    It's a lot of fun, with a few guys in the boat. As we are throwing crabs in the boat, trying to net all of them on the line without missing them.

    And then the best part is steaming them up to eat!
  • dnaberdnaber Posts: 310 Deckhand
    Weber wrote: »
    We use trotline, which most people in the south equate that to a fishing trotline, but it is different.

    We run an anchor with a line to a buoy, then down to a chain on the bottom. It connects to a long line (MD max length for recreational crabbing is 1200') that sits on the bottom with baits tied on about every 3-6'. At the other end there is a chain and line just like you started with.

    You drive the boat next to the buoy and grab the line and connect it to the boat on what we call a "prop stick" we slowly drive down the line and the line comes up to the boat and over the prop stick back down to the bottom. As the line comes up the crabs are attached to the bait. We use a special metal net called a "dip net" that we net the crabs before they drop off.

    It's a lot of fun, with a few guys in the boat. As we are throwing crabs in the boat, trying to net all of them on the line without missing them.

    And then the best part is steaming them up to eat!

    I lived in Delaware for 28 years and had several friends that would trotline for them. **** I getting hungry for some steamed crabs with some oldbay on top. :thumbsup
    Don Naber
    USAF (Retired)
    Middleburg, FL.
    God Bless America, And All That Serve This Great Nation
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    I've seen people locally using chicken necks,etc just like up north and they are successful from what I've seen.

    There are plenty of crabs here locally, but IMO they don't compare to Delmarva crabs quality in terms of meat density,etc. I grew up in southern DE and have eaten more blue crabs than I care to count, but the blue crabs I've had here aren't as consistent.

    Yeah, I'm a chicken necker! Sometime we use razor clams as well.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    dnaber wrote: »
    I lived in Delaware for 28 years and had several friends that would trotline for them. **** I getting hungry for some steamed crabs with some oldbay on top. :thumbsup

    Yeah buddy, but we use a different seasoning. We all love oldbay, but most of us use a different seasoning for crabs, and use the oldbay on everything else. My kids will not even eat popcorn unless it has oldbay on it!
  • stc1993stc1993 Albany, GA Carrabelle, FLPosts: 9,313 Admiral
    Looks like yall caught a bunch of them. I've never ate any of them. It seems theres not much meat on them. What parts do you eat besides the claws? Is there parts in the shell you can eat?
  • mplspugmplspug Palmetto FloridaPosts: 15,479 AG
    That's what I was wondering. I bought some in a store and made them and it didn't seem like it was worth the effort. I also assumed I was doing it wrong and or the store bought ones were small.
    Just dropping grenades in OT
  • bswivbswiv Posts: 8,222 Admiral
    Same species of blue crab is caught from CT/DL down to Brazil, along with some other species. Meat to shell ratio ( density ) effected by how long it's been sense the crab shed. Around moons ( full & new ) there will be peaks in shedding with there being a resultant increase in the number of "light" crabs, these peaks being most notable in the spring and fall.

    Another factor affecting meat is how salty the water is where the crabs are caught. It's the same with shrimp and fish. IMHO crabs from saltier water are somewhat better.......but it is also the fact that locally crabs from more brackish areas may be larger, especially the males.

    The line method will work at times, though just as with trapping there will be times the crabs will not participate. What you'll also find is that when there are a pile of shrimp in the river the crabs will be harder to catch, and less willing to hang on to the line and be pulled to the surface. Interestingly it is not so much that the crabs are eating the shrimp, though they are but rather that as the shrimp shed the crabs gorge on the hulls left after the shrimp molt.

    Another thing is that as it gets hot, as the water warms it is normal that the crabs will let go of the bait easier so the method MIGHT work better early in the year.

    Finally......crabs here have a life cycle that sort of follows the seasons. They will on average be smaller in the spring early summer than they will in late summer /fall.

    And for what it is worth, dipping crabs is a Gulf Coast tradition. Basics are a net, a tub in a inner-tube and a grass flat to walk. Obviously not as simple as it sounds as some areas will hold crabs while others will not ( same in the river ) but the idea is straight forward.
  • Optimum7Optimum7 Posts: 351 Deckhand
    If legal to do at guana it would probably be a great place, loaded with good size crabs, at least easier for me to get when I do go crabbing . I never done well in the st johns for some reason, probably do not know what I am doing.
  • Ladder ManLadder Man Posts: 1,198 Officer
    bswiv wrote: »
    Same species of blue crab is caught from CT/DL down to Brazil, along with some other species. Meat to shell ratio ( density ) effected by how long it's been sense the crab shed. Around moons ( full & new ) there will be peaks in shedding with there being a resultant increase in the number of "light" crabs, these peaks being most notable in the spring and fall.

    Another factor affecting meat is how salty the water is where the crabs are caught. It's the same with shrimp and fish. IMHO crabs from saltier water are somewhat better.......but it is also the fact that locally crabs from more brackish areas may be larger, especially the males.

    The line method will work at times, though just as with trapping there will be times the crabs will not participate. What you'll also find is that when there are a pile of shrimp in the river the crabs will be harder to catch, and less willing to hang on to the line and be pulled to the surface. Interestingly it is not so much that the crabs are eating the shrimp, though they are but rather that as the shrimp shed the crabs gorge on the hulls left after the shrimp molt.

    Another thing is that as it gets hot, as the water warms it is normal that the crabs will let go of the bait easier so the method MIGHT work better early in the year.

    Finally......crabs here have a life cycle that sort of follows the seasons. They will on average be smaller in the spring early summer than they will in late summer /fall.

    And for what it is worth, dipping crabs is a Gulf Coast tradition. Basics are a net, a tub in a inner-tube and a grass flat to walk. Obviously not as simple as it sounds as some areas will hold crabs while others will not ( same in the river ) but the idea is straight forward.

    Ben,
    I really appreciate the wealth of knowledge that you bring here.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    stc1993 wrote: »
    Looks like yall caught a bunch of them. I've never ate any of them. It seems theres not much meat on them. What parts do you eat besides the claws? Is there parts in the shell you can eat?

    In MD the limit is one bushel or a max of two bushel per boat if two or more license holders are present. We just about always limited out, just some days we got there quicker than others.

    MD goes by the basket bushel, which is 8 gallons. Florida allows 10 gallons per license holder, which is what the blue plastic baskets are.

    Most of the meat is in the body, the back fin is the sweet jumbo lump. The misconception is the most people only eat the claws. Once you learn to pick a crab, you'll almost not want to even touch the claws as the best in the body.

    Yes, it's not a ton of meat. But it's a table food, where a group of friends and family can sit around a table eating and drinking for hours having a great time.

    My kids have always been involved from preparing the boat, baiting the line, to catching the crabs, cooking them, and eating them. Trying to get them to help clean up after is the hard part, lol...
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    bswiv wrote: »
    The line method will work at times, though just as with trapping there will be times the crabs will not participate. What you'll also find is that when there are a pile of shrimp in the river the crabs will be harder to catch, and less willing to hang on to the line and be pulled to the surface..

    It's funny that up north when the water temps are 80 plus the crabs tend to hang on longer. I ran an autodipper for years, and during the summer the catch was incredible because of how long they stayed on. On a regular prop stick I have had crabs go all the way over the stick and hang on back down to the bottom.

    One thing that concerns me here that I have seen up there is water quality. When the water is really clear the crabs drop off earlier.

    MD has a strong religion for crabs, you'll never convince a MD crabber that our methods came from the south, lol.

    The prices are very cheap here as well, a bushel of MD crabs in the summer will be $200 or more depending on the year and the size of them. Down here the price is less than half.

    During the beginning of the season up there a lot of the local crab houses use crabs from the FL, and the gulf and then as the weather warms up we will start getting NC crabs, and then eventually all MD crabs. Our season start April 1st, and the minimum size is reduced early in the season. The crabs are hard to come by until the weather starts warming the water up and the crabs come out of the mud.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    Here is a picture of my autodipper on my old crabbing boat.

    IMG00053-20100522-1909.jpg
  • palatkacrackapalatkacracka Posts: 107 Deckhand
    I've crabbed in Guana and there are stud blue crabs. If you don't think that there is any meat on a blue crab, you ain't cleanin it right!
  • bswivbswiv Posts: 8,222 Admiral
    Weber wrote: »
    Here is a picture of my autodipper on my old crabbing boat.

    IMG00053-20100522-1909.jpg

    If you've got that here with you seeing a video from the river with it in action would be awesome! Always like to learn a new thing or two.

    If you try the river I'd suggest following a contour edge as a first try, especially if you try it around a moon. More males up shallow and though they will not usually be much bigger than the females there is the chance to catch the occasional stud which helps. Just off the docks if you are south of the Buckman.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    bswiv wrote: »
    If you've got that here with you seeing a video from the river with it in action would be awesome! Always like to learn a new thing or two.

    If you try the river I'd suggest following a contour edge as a first try, especially if you try it around a moon. More males up shallow and though they will not usually be much bigger than the females there is the chance to catch the occasional stud which helps. Just off the docks if you are south of the Buckman.

    No I sold this boat before I moved here and bought a brand new center console.

    I actually sold most of my crabbing gear and another boat I had as I didn't think I would be able to crab here, hence my excitement about trying it out!
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    bswiv wrote: »
    If you've got that here with you seeing a video from the river with it in action would be awesome! Always like to learn a new thing or two.

    If you try the river I'd suggest following a contour edge as a first try, especially if you try it around a moon. More males up shallow and though they will not usually be much bigger than the females there is the chance to catch the occasional stud which helps. Just off the docks if you are south of the Buckman.

    Here is a video of a similar auto dipper, my had a manual crank.

    [video]
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    I've crabbed in Guana and there are stud blue crabs. If you don't think that there is any meat on a blue crab, you ain't cleanin it right!

    Is that area part of the icw?
  • bswivbswiv Posts: 8,222 Admiral
    Weber wrote: »
    Is that area part of the icw?

    You want to crab the north ( lake ) side of the dam. Near on 40 years ago there was a short window when Gate Lands and the State of Florida were negotiating the State's purchase during which we ran a few commercial crab traps in there. It was legal for all of a few months if I remember correctly.

    Place has the nicest crabs on average.......at least did.......that you could expect in NE FL. Crab lining was/is a standard down there, though the weekends can be elbow to elbow.

    While chicken will work you would be better off with fresh fish heads. Though you need to get the right kind......and fresh!!!

    Inshore species will work far better, whiting, flounder, drum and the like......croakers too.
  • palatkacrackapalatkacracka Posts: 107 Deckhand
    ^^^ Look up Guana Dam and stick to the north side (Lake side). Bring some PVC stakes and line and chicken or whatever you wanna use and have a blast. Big boys in there for sure.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    bswiv wrote: »
    You want to crab the north ( lake ) side of the dam. Near on 40 years ago there was a short window when Gate Lands and the State of Florida were negotiating the State's purchase during which we ran a few commercial crab traps in there. It was legal for all of a few months if I remember correctly.

    Place has the nicest crabs on average.......at least did.......that you could expect in NE FL. Crab lining was/is a standard down there, though the weekends can be elbow to elbow.

    While chicken will work you would be better off with fresh fish heads. Though you need to get the right kind......and fresh!!!

    Inshore species will work far better, whiting, flounder, drum and the like......croakers too.

    Nice, thanks for the info.
  • WeberWeber Posts: 108 Deckhand
    ^^^ Look up Guana Dam and stick to the north side (Lake side). Bring some PVC stakes and line and chicken or whatever you wanna use and have a blast. Big boys in there for sure.

    Thanks.
  • grinnygrinny Posts: 74 Greenhorn
    edited June 2019 #28
  • stc1993stc1993 Albany, GA Carrabelle, FLPosts: 9,313 Admiral
    yall got me wanting to try these crabs, I love crab meat.
  • grinnygrinny Posts: 74 Greenhorn
    edited June 2019 #30
  • chronicbreakchronicbreak Posts: 1,188 Officer
    Ben nailed it earlier. I commercially crabbed for a few years...part of the year up river near Julington Creek and part in and around the inner coastal. The crabs up river were always "prettier" and I'd have some studs. But funny enough when I was nearer to the salty water people raved about the sweeter taste and honestly size was good too. I prefer a crab that's nearer to the ocean.

    Being from Lewes DE I have also had more crab than I care to remember and can pick with the best of them. That said after cleaning and halfing the crab...take a rolling pin and roll the meat out. Works like a charm and your left with little or no shell and lots of lump meat. It does take the fun out but if your making a recipe it's quick.

    Why are pics turning sideways?
    National Marine Fisheries Service
    DESTROYING FISHERMEN AND THEIR COMMUNITIES SINCE 1976
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