Catching blue crabs in the Carolinas can be an easy afternoon spent by the quiet water near the ocean. A tranquil, often simple activity, and a perfect adventure for anyone after a tasty meal with pretty minimal fuss. The main ingredients to catching blue crabs are: bait, a trap or hook and line, a net, a bucket, and some patience. There are some great tips for crabbing for beginners in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina. And try this a quick videobreakdown of bait and trap options and some crab catching (without getting pinched). Really inspirational, read this inspiring post from a first-time blue crabber on how to catch crabs with an easy rig.
Don’t forget your license
Before you head out, be sure to check on if you need a local fishing license and that you know the size limits for your catch. See information for North Carolina and South Carolina. Most of the time, depending on how many crabs you are setting out to catch, and the method you’re using, you won’t need a permit which are mostly required only for commercial operations. It’s of course always better to check first, and avoid breaking the law. You can always double check local regulations at local bait and tackle shops near your destination.
How to cook a blue crab
Congratulations on your crab haul! The great news is cooking live crabs couldn’t be simpler. Most methods for cooking blue crabs, which have a sweet meat, are simple. They involve a large pot of water, often seasoned with “Old Bay” seasoning (a spice blend perfect for shellfish like crabs and shrimp) or salt and lemon juice. Simply bring the pot to a boil over a strong stove flame or campfire, season, and carefully add live crabs (use tongs to avoid the pinchers). Boil until the meat is cooked and tender (about 7 minutes). Pluck out crabs with long tongs, and crack them open to eat!
Blue crab boil recipes are usually simpler than what you might recognize as a “low country boil.” That style recipe is more native to the Gulf Coast and comes with added ingredients like corn, sausage, potatoes, and shrimp or even crawfish. Here’s a sample recipe. However you decide to cook your crab haul, enjoy the sweet meat inside.
Check out How To Boil Blue Crabs from a Carolina local:
How to crack open a cooked crab
Techniques and family traditions abound, but there are tried and true methods for getting to the delicate meat inside a cooked blue crab (which are much smaller than the Alaskan King Crab legs you might have encountered before in restaurants). Also known as “picking” a crab, you can learn several different methods for getting to all the meat. Don’t be surprised if you encounter very strong opinions from those who have been picking crab meat for their entire lives. Take it as an opportunity to learn a new skill! In a pinch, try the technique in this quick video.
Want to celebrate blue crabs (but not have to catch them)?
Head to the annual Blue Crab Festival in May near Myrtle Beach, SC. More than 50,000 crab lovers will make the pilgrimage each year for food, crab-themed crafts, music, and good times on the Grand Strand. And oh yes, there will be plenty of blue crabs to eat.