Catching & Cooking Blue Crab

How to Catch a Blue Crab

TAKING A DIP – A favorite pastime of the Howarth’s when family is in town, is to go blue crabbing.

All along the southern Cape Cod coast, there are dozens of places and opportunities to catch a limit (25 crabs per day, if you are lucky) blue crab for supper. It has to be the easiest fishing one can do on the Cape and it is fun activity to include the entire family. Children are fascinated by these creatures…just don’t let them get to close to those claws….they are amongst the strongest in the ocean and can produce a nasty pinch.

The most basic method of capturing crabs from the shore is the chicken neck technique. You will need to purchase 1) a long-handled, wide meshed dip net. 2) a five gallon bucket (preferably with a lid). 3) and either a commercially produced crab line with weight or a spool of thick twine. All of these items are available at the Goose Hummock. You will also need a short set of sticks or poles that you can use to tie off your bail lines.

To begin crabbing, tie a chicken neck (you can also use a wing or drumstick, any thing with bones in it that you can get) securely to the end of the weighted line. Drop the chicken neck into the water and let it sink deep enough to where it disappears. From the moment you put the bait in the water, watch the line. When the crab picks up the scent of the bait, they will immediately grasp it in a death grip with those powerful claws and begin to move away with it. As the line begins to move away, gently pick up the line and begin a steady hand over hand retrieve. As the crab comes into sight, slowly raise the bait and swing the crab toward your dip net.

Crabs are a super aggressive, tenacious predator. Most often, if gently retrieved, a blue crab will hang onto the chicken long enough for you to net him. As you release the crab into the bucket, be very cautious how you handle it, crabs are fast and quick to lash out.

If there are a lot of crabs in the area you are fishing, you will have action until your bait runs out or you reach the legal limit. Remember: Blue Crabs must be 5 inches long from spike to spike to keep and must be male (females have very distinct red tips to their claws and are easy to identify). Crabs will keep well in your bucket for hours if kept out of the sun .

Where to Crab

All along Cape Cod’s Nantucket sound coastline is prime habitat for blue claws in late summer. Some of the most productive spots also offer the easiest access…the Bass River Bridge in Yarmouth, Herring River Bridge in Harwich and the Swan River Bridge in Dennis are great places to start.


Goose Hummock Fishing Staff Crab Cakes Recipe
  • 1 C. mayonnaiseshutterstock_302916416
  • 1 T. dry mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. Worcestershire
  • 1 t. Old Bay spice blend
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 C. crushed Saltine crackers
  • 1 T. dried parsley


Mix first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add crab and toss lightly, being careful not to break up the large crab lumps. Refrigerate for an hour. Shape into 4″ patties. Pan fry half at a time, in about 1/4 inch of hot oil, turning to ensure both sides turn golden brown.

These are great on their own, but they also make excellent sandwiches!

Makes 6-8 crab cakes.