Last Crack at Crabs & Bonus Striper Tags
Story by Tom Pagliaroli
Last Crack at Crabs
This week’s blow set the clock running for the last week, maybe two, of crabbing before the crustaceans settle in the mud for the winter. Once water temperatures dip into the low fifties, they pretty much go off the feed and seek spots that will hold them until they re-emerge sometime in late March/early April.
Unlike summertime crabbing, you’re going to need a jacket and cap or a hoodie, as the morning chill is substantial. No doubt there will be times during this Indian Summer season daytime temperatures will nudge into the sixties and perhaps even the low seventies, and it’s easy enough to shed the outer garment.
The blueclaws will have gravitated to deeper water such as channel edges. This can meany anywhere from 10 to as deep as 15-feet, or even deeper, predicated on the area being probed. For all intents and purposes, this is trap time unless it’s the rare circumstance where the crabs move shallower after a series of warms days and a spike in water temps and then drop (hand) lines can be utilized.
While bait is a personal choice, most anything fleshy will work as any crabs still wandering the bay bottoms will have the feedbags on. We’ve used thawed bluefish, sea bass carcasses and bunker, but, hands down for autumn crabbing, chicken necks (if you can get them) and chicken legs (drumsticks) have been the top producers. Bluefish has come close on occasion, but on the overall, it’s biddy meat that puts the most crabs in the bushel, basket or bucket.
The past couple of years we’ve been soaking the baits overnight in Blue Crab Fuel, and this has noticeably improve the catches.
The best part of the late season crabbing game is the quarry is at the largest size and they are packed with meat. I mean l-o-a-d-e-d, and provide the best eating of the year.
This is basically a search-by-boat endeavor, i.e. no float, no blueclaws. There are a few boat liveries still renting, but time is extremely short. Google and make the call.
Bonus Striper Tags
Applications for a striped bass bonus tag, which allows you to keep a striper between 24 and 28-inches, are being accepted through October 31. This is by mail only! Get to it asap to take advantage of this program. The cost is minimal. Visit www.njfishandwildlife.com and click the saltwater fishing link for the information. Remember, it is not necessary to first catch a bass greater than 28-inches to then catch and keep one in the bonus range. The qualifier can be caught and iced first.
Free Fishing Day: Fishing in any freshwater lake, pond, stream, river or reservoir is free this Saturday. That’s right, no license or trout stamp needed. With the recently completed autumn trout stocking, this is the perfect time to sample New Jersey’s prime trout fishing opportunities. Swims such as the North and South Branches of the Metedeconk rivers, and the Manasquan and Toms rivers, were loaded with rainbow trout averaging 14-16 inches in addition to generous doses of breeder trout between 3-6 pounds. In addition to trout, the fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, pure strain and tiger muskies, yellow perch, hybrid stripers, walleyes, northern pike, crappies and channel catfish is going strong. Make no mistake about it: New Jersey’s freshwater fishing is outstanding, and now’s the chance to sample it at no charge.
Visit www.njfishandwildlife.com and click the freshwater fishing link for information.