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Crabbing on Ocean Isle Beach
Few things are as fun as crabbing along the beach during your Ocean Isle Beach vacation. Kids and adults alike will love spending time crabbing along the various waterways. It is an easy way to explore the water and catch a great dinner. Today we’ll give you everything you need to get started crabbing during your Ocean Isle Beach vacation.

There are several ways to go crabbing, but we will focus on chicken-necking. Why chicken-necking you ask? Simple, because it is a time-honored tradition here on Ocean Isle Beach. It’s impossible not to have fun crabbing using the chicken-necking method. Before we get started on the fun stuff, we need to review a few rules.

The Rules

Before you start crabbing, you’ll need to check with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to check whether or not you’ll need a North Carolina Fishing License. Most local bait shops will sell any licenses you need, or you can purchase them online prior to arriving. The good news is you likely won’t need a license.

Individuals who crab via chicken-necking do not need a
license, if certain conditions are met. If you are only going to set one pot per person from a private pier or shoreline, so long as you have the permission of the property owner, then no license is required. A private pier or shoreline is defined as not having any public access. This rule doesn’t apply to fishing piers where the public pays for fishing privileges. Fishing piers have all inclusive licenses that cover all paid patrons. No buoy or identification tags are required for the recreational crabber.

Individuals do not need a license for chicken necking or legging.

Also, a license is not required to use collapsible crab traps as long as the following conditionsare met. The largest open dimension cannotbe larger than 18 inches, and the traps must be designed to collapse at all times when in the water, except when they are being retrieved from or lowered to the bottom.

All recreational crabbers must follow the latest prescribed catch limits, which at the time of this blog are 50 crabs per day per person or 100 per vessel. All crabs must be 5 inches in minimum size for males and immature females. To measure a crab, measure from the tip to tip of the carapace. It is illegal for recreational crabbers to sell their catch.

What You’ll Need

Crab Trap The equipment needed for crabbing is simple and cheap, which makes it a great activity for the beach. You’ll need a long cord of fishing line or twine, about 15ft – 20ft long. Crab
don’t pull hard so you don’t need a special line. Make sure to apply a small weight to the end of the line to weigh it down so the line will sink to the bottom of the water.

Now it’s time to get a little
bait. Most people are surprised to discover that crab love chicken. It’s cheap and easy to find. Just head over to the grocery store and pick up a little chicken (get cuts that have bones). Wings and legs work great.

Tie your bait to one end of the fishing line and toss it into the water. You can hold onto the other end, or tie it to a dock post or fishing pole holder. Make sure there is some slack on the line so it’s easy to detect movement. Then simply wait. As soon as the line starts to tighten, it’s a sure sign that there is a crab at the other end, enjoying the bait.

The key to a successful day of crabbing is to be patient. The trick is… once you feel a tug on the line, to slowly reel in the line without disturbing the crab on the other end. The crab is essentially chewing on the bait. Since there is no hook, you need to be smooth when you reel in the line. A small fishing net is helpful to have. Once you have the crab within reach of the net, simply scoop the crab up.

Where to Go Crabbing

Now that you have all the equipment you need, and you know the rules… you’ll need to find the perfect spot to go crabbing.

The first thing you need to know about picking a spot is to avoid the ocean. It sounds counterintuitive, but the ocean’s waves and strong currents make recreational crabbing unproductive. Instead, you need to look for calmer waters.

Look for a secluded sound or canal front location to wet your line. The Intracoastal Waterway is perfect for this. Whether from shore or the back of a boat, the ICW is ideal for crabbing. Of course, if you have chosen one of our many canal front homes you can simply hang a line right from your back door.

When looking for a spot along a canal, look for an area with water that is about 2 to 6 feet deep. This is the ideal depth for crabbing.

Crab move around. In fact, they are like buzzards and eat just about anything. They are constantly on the move looking for sources of food. Make sure to stop in one of the local bait shops to get the latest hot spots. The friendly locals on Ocean Isle Beach will be happy to tell you the best places to have a successful day of crabbing.

Local Tip: Look for an incoming tide for the best crabbing in the ICW.
Now that we have caught a few crab it is important to make sure to place them in a cooler (on ice) to keep them fresh. Fresh crab makes the best crab cakes.

Best Simple Crab Cake Recipe You’ll Love

Here in the South, crab cakes are a tradition. The recipes for crab cakes vary greatly from one region to the next, but we think the one with the most flavor and carb meat wins!! Don’t worry, if you don’t feel like picking crab meat from your fresh catch, we have plenty of local fish markets where you can find the best back-fin and jumbo lump crab meat to make your own crab cakes. How to Feed a Loon has a great carb cake recipe that you will be itching to try. Yummy!

We hope you get a chance during your Ocean Isle Beach vacation to explore the local waters and do a little chicken-necking. If you have a favorite place to crab on Ocean Isle Beach or want to share any tips and tricks to crabbing, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear all about your family’s crabbing adventures. Don’t forget to book your Ocean Isle Beach vacation today. Bookings are filling up fast!

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Crabbing on Ocean Isle Beach
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