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Gulf Coast Crabbing

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by David Roberts

Every year, thousands of people flock to the Texas coast and surrounding areas in search of fun and opportunity. Some of those things include relaxing on our beaches while others are seeking the rich bounties that our Gulf waters provide. One of the commodities that people search for are the abundance of Blue crabs that reside on our beach front, waterways and estuaries.

When it comes to Blue crabs, most people think of Maryland and having crab boils with their famous Old Bay seasoning. That’s fine and they can have the hype but, on the upper coast of Texas, we can catch them just as well!  Now let’s talk about some of the aspects of crabbing.

WHERE TO GO

One of the best areas to take advantage of these blue crustaceans is the Beaumont, Texas area. Nestled between Houston and the Louisiana border, Beaumont provides a perfect, centralized location to go crabbing. From here, you can head towards Crystal Beach and along the way you can pull off of Highway 124 and visit the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Once you get there, you can head south to the northern shoreline of East Bay and Frozen Point. If you continue to the beach, the public boat ramps and the very end of the peninsula make for great spots to start.

One of the other directions to go from Beaumont is southeast towards Sabine Lake and Sabine Pass. There are plenty of quality crabbing areas down this way and nearly every location will hold Blue crabs. One can start on Pleasure Island, which is located on the southern end of Sabine Lake. Here, there are boat ramps, public piers and parks, and miles of shoreline that can be taken advantage of. Try going to the end of the island to Walter Umphrey Park.

Another area is towards Sabine Pass; this is located across the Ship Channel from Pleasure Island and can be accessed by going down Highway 87. Once there, you can try crabbing at Dick Dowlen Park, which has a boat ramp, fish cleaning station and some historical attributes. If you continue down Highway 87, McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge is at the very end of it and it consist of 58,000 acres of pristine marsh. Here they have built piers and docks for public use.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

When it comes to crabbing, the simplicity is what really makes this worthwhile. One thing you will for sure need is a Saltwater Fishing license. If you have kids that are under 17 years old, a fishing license is not required for them.

Now that you are legal, the next thing you will need is crab bait. This is a topic that is commonly argued between my family and friends as to what works best. The general census is that chicken necks work best. Try to stay away from buying chicken quarters as they will fall apart and they do not have enough fat content, which releases less scent than a neck.

The other thing you will need is string; either cotton or nylon crabbing string works best. You will need a net. Some are made with longer handles specifically designed for crabbing. And, the last thing you will need is a cooler to put crabs in!

WHEN TO GO AND WHAT TO DO

One thing that is great about crabbing is that it can be done year round. Although there is no time restraint, the early spring and summer months seem to be the best. Once you pick a spot, you want to take a 10’-12’ length of string and tie a good knot around your chicken neck. Be sure to tie it off to something like a chair, pylon or rock before throwing it out. Chunk it out the full length and let it sit. We like to throw at least four lines out but you can throw out as many as you can manage; be sure to spread them out. Once a crab pinches on, you will see your line become tight as they are trying to swim away. Grab the line and slowly pull it in and once the crab is within range of the net, make a quick but smooth scoop from underneath. Now you’re catching crabs!

The fun thing about crabbing is that you can do this solo or with your friends and family. I highly encourage though to bring the kids if you have them! They will have an absolute ball and this fun activity will get them to spend the day in the great outdoors.

That is the jest of crabbing though; there is nothing too technical behind it and anyone can do it. If you are looking to travel, Beaumont is a perfect place to stay and provides plenty of opportunity for crabbing, fishing, and many other activities. So, be sure to gather the family up and come see what the Texas Coast has to offer.

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