One of the kids favourite activities is to go crabbing and there are three good locations in East Dorset; Mudeford Quay, Poole Quay and Swanage.
Mudeford Quay is our favourite crabbing location as it has plenty of parking and facilities nearby, but it also means that it can get busy.
In the past we have used crab lines, but the crabs have a tendency to fall off as you bring them out of the water, so this time we used crab drop nets, which we found much easier to use.
Equipment you will need to go crabbing:
- Hook-free crab lines or crab drop nets
- Clear Bucket
- Crab bait – you can use fish, wet cat food or bacon
- Catching net (if using lines)
Once you have your equipment, with the exception of the crab bait, it can be also be used again at the beach for rockpooling, so it is a good investment.
How to go crabbing
1. Find a suitable spot on the harbour wall and make sure you supervise your children carefully. Mudeford especially has a very strong tide. It is much safer and shallower behind the restaurant on the harbour side for younger kids.
2. Add your bait to the net / line and throw it into the water, letting it rest on the sea bed. We started with bacon on this occasion and found the crabs were not interested. As soon as we added the fish, we were much luckier!
3. Fill your bucket with sea water so you have something to safely put your catch into.
4. Wait – crabbing is an activity for the patient. We check our nets every 5-10 minutes.
5. Raise your line / net, it should feel heavier. Sometimes it is just seaweed tangled up, but you may be lucky and haul in a crab or two. We also caught shrimps.
6. Put your crabs in your bucket of sea water. Clear ones are better as it gives the kids the chance to inspect the crabs without the fear of being nipped.
7. Make sure you have a couple of buckets and try not to put too many crabs in one bucket as they don’t like crowds and will start fighting if there are too many.
8. Try and keep the crabs in the shade if it is a hot, sunny day. They are not accustomed to bright sunlight.
9. Let them go safely back into the water when you have finished. We like to watch ours race back over the harbour wall.
10. Make sure you take everything home with you, being especially careful not to let any plastic fall into the sea.
Most importantly, have fun………it is a great activity to keep the whole family entertained.
Have you been crabbing before?