Freshwater crabs are quite the opposite of their saltwater cousins. They tend to be tropical or stay in warmer water and even on land. They are also eaten around the world, both as a delicacy and in poorer countries as sustenance. Often they are known more for their popularity in fish tanks because of their compatibility with all kinds of fish and for their mainstream scarcity. They also tend to clean tanks, which is always a plus. If you want to catch a crab or take in a whole haul, here are a few tips:
Step 1 – Get the Right Trap
The best way to isolate any kind of crab is a double-tiered trap with a bottom entrance. The crabs enter to investigate the bait and then tend to swim upwards. Crabs will naturally swim upwards when they are confined. Once they swim into the top half of the trap, they cannot get back down.
Step 2 – Get the Best Crab Bait
Crabs will eat many different fresh fish and will be especially drawn into a crab pot by one that is newly dead and was sliced right before the trap was set. One of the most widely used baits is herring and other medium-sized white fish. Fish heads and chicken necks have also been used widely and, as always, there are some great proponents of cat food in a bind.
Step 3 – Set the Trap
For freshwater crabs, traps will be most successful near the banks. Freshwater crabs are fonder of being on land, so the best place to find them is close to it. Find a grassy spot of shallow water with land access. Check a rocky landing with an overhang of jutting branches or marshy reeds. Set your crab trap and secure it firmly with rope so it doesn’t have any chance of flipping over, because the bottom is easier to escape. Also, mark the spots or make a map of where you are dropping the traps so you can come back easily in 4 hours and check them in the order you set them.
Step 4 – Empty the Trap
If fishing for the day, you will want to empty your trap after 3 to 4 hours and reset it. That means you want to have a good pair of gloves and a large bucket with a lid if necessary. Open only one of the entrances and dump them into the bucket as quickly as possible before they can get situated. If they get loose or one needs prodding, make sure to grab it from behind so as to avoid the pinchers of an angry and confused crustacean.
Step 5 - Try Fishing for Crabs
Freshwater crabs also sometimes respond to line and bait like other fish. You can just tie a piece of bait to a piece of fishing line and drop it in water known to have crabs. As soon as you feel resistance to pulling it back, get a hand-held net ready and scoop it up as it gets close while you are still pulling the line. Repeat as needed for your tank or meal.
No matter where you decide to try your luck with freshwater crabs, check the local Fish and Wildlife regulations to see if there is a limit on fishing the crabs and if so what it is per day, per person. Sometimes it’s per group, so find what applies to your trip members specifically.