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DAN'S PAPERS, August 27, 2010 Page 57 www.danshamptons.com

The Intricacies of Catching Crabs By Maria Orlando Pietromonaco With August we welcome shorter summer days, the start of apple season, and of course, crabs. This year, however, the blue claws (in addition to swarms of jellyfish) appeared in July due to the early onset of warmer weather. And there are lots of them to go around. Wego Bait & Tackle in Southold said they haven’t seen anything like it in years, that people were “catching ‘em like crazy.” Crabbing is a memorable pastime for many families. As kids, we grew up with late summer crab feasts at the dining room table—we caught them, stored them, prepared them and ate them. It’s a great way to pass an August day or evening here on the East End. Although crabbing doesn’t require elevated skill levels, it does take patience and a little bit of know how. If you’ve got time on your hands you can set up a crab trap. We have one that’s basically a galvanized wire cube with four sides that open when released with bait fastened in the center. These need to be watched over, because when the crab crawls in, you need to pick up the trap quickly to snag it. There are other types of traps you simply leave unattended, as there is a way in but no way out. You can check these once a day to retrieve your crab prizes. There can be one or several caught at a time this way. The other method is to “catch as you go” with either a net or bait tied to a string. The string

method of crabbing is simply a hand line of fishing wire or string (crabs don’t weigh all that much, so almost anything will do) with bait attached to the end. You just lower it into the water until it hits bottom, wait for the light tugging of a feeding crab, and slowly pull the line in. Have your net ready to retrieve it. The most basic way involves just you, a net, and lot of proficiency. This is just a “spot and scoop” method that works well in shallow water. Many people crab at night this way with a flashlight, as nocturnal crabs can be easily spotted swimming near the surface. Some people even claim that shining a bright light into the water will attract curious crabs.

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Crabs are fickle; they’re not like seagulls that will poke and pick at rotten carcasses and spoiled produce. I’ve secured leftover filet mignon, pickled herring, even a hot dog into a crab trap, only to have the many a crab pass by without so much as a curious glance. Raw chicken is still one of their menu favorites, and if you can get to the bait store, an oily fish such as bunker is a good bet. Where to go crabbing? Crabs can be found in any creek, cove, or canal, and along any kind of bulkhead. Some hotspots on the East End include Mecox Bay, Sagaponack Pond, the Shinnecock Canal on the south side, and Hallock’s Bay, Goose Creek, and Corey Creek on the North Fork. Remember, there are regional limits. Around here we can pull 50 crabs at a clip, and the hardshells have to be 4.5 inches spike tip to spike tip (3.5 inches for softshells). Once you’ve captured a blue claw, the challenge is transferring it from its trapped position to a holding tank, usually a bucket. I’ve witnessed many a macho man go in for the crab grab, seizing it from behind. Don’t underestimate the crab’s wit or dexterity—they’re fast on their claws. One beast reached around and clipped my father’s finger. (continued on page 60)

A provocative undertaking. –TOM BROKAW

In 2010 America:

Federal & personal debt ballooning beyond sustainable levels… Our futures are being sold to the highest bidder (usually China)….

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What Would Ben Say? Find out August 30th. 1342190

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Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  
Dan's Papers Aug. 27, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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