Crabbing is a leading summertime activity across the coasts of Texas. It is a great way to get yourself and your family involved in the outdoors while also providing you with a tasty and healthy treat that everyone can enjoy.
Crabbing along the Texas coast is a simple pursuit that requires very little investment for the gears as well. But there are regulations you need to be aware of before you get started so it is essential to keep yourself informed of all the rules so that you can have an enjoyable crabbing trip.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department:
- To harvest crabs for personal use, you need to have a valid license for fishing and also some kind of approval for saltwater fishing.
- You can take crabs for personal use with your recreational license, but you cannot sell them.
The state also posts certain limits to numbers and sizes to possess crabs:
There is no daily possession limit for blue crabs, but its legal size must be a minimum of 5 inches, measuring across the body from one tip of its spine to the other. You also cannot harvest a pregnant sponge crabs.
You can only take a stone crab’s right claw and put it back in the water. And the claw must measure a minimum of 2 and a 1/2 inches.
When To Go Crabbing In Texas
Crabbing season is year-round in Texas except during the ten days closure in February that happens annually. The February closure is so that the state can remove any abundant crabbing traps from the water.
Crabbing in the state is typically best when the water temperature rises because this is when the crabs are the most active. So the best time is usually from mid-summer to early winter. Usually, from about November till May, crabs mostly lie stagnant because the water becomes cold. So during this period, you will not have much luck catching any crabs.
When the summer begins, and the water temperature gets warm enough, crabs will become comfortable and emerge.
Most Sought After Crabs In The Texas
You will find all sorts of crabs in the Texas Gulf Coast, but the blue claw crabs are most abundant.
Since there aren’t any catch limits or restrictions around blue crab, it easily makes it one of the most sought crab species.
Just as its name suggests, this blue crab is blue in color with sweet and mild meat. And in a female blue crab, you will find that the tip of their claw is usually ruby red. Or you can identify the sexes of the blue crab from its abdominal apron or flap.
You will see it in the male more like an upturn T but broader in the female.
You will also typically find them near sandy bottoms with seagrasses because they generally rest and wait for prey there.
While harvesting blue crabs, you must know that you cannot take a pregnant female. You can identify a pregnant blue crab from its orange mass on its underside.
It would help if you kept in mind that although there is no catch limit for blue crabs, it has legal size limits. It must measure 5 inches across its most expansive part of the body.
Another primary crab commonly sought by crabbers on the Texas coast is the stone crabs. However, you can only take its right-hand claw and return the body to the water.
According to the Texas Parks and wildlife department, the crab’s right claw will grow back typically in a year.
Legal Crabbing Devices
Before you start your crabbing trip to the Texas coast, you will first need to get ready with your necessary equipment for catching crabs.
There are varied crabbing gears available however the TPWD has restrictions on which devices will be allowed during crab harvesting.
Let’s discuss some of the gears that are legal in Texas.
- One of the simplest legal gear to use is the throw line, with zero restrictions. This line has no hook, so you can tie the bait to a long enough piece of twine to reach the bottom.
- You can also use a crab net, which is also called an umbrella net by the PWD, as it falls flat when dropped in the water. This device does come with a restriction, and that is the umbrella net must not exceed 16 square feet.
- And the most commonly used gear by crabbers, which is also highly effective, is the crab trap. It is a piece of rectangular-shaped equipment, usually with chicken wire or some thin metal. The trap sides have inverted funnels that make way for crabs to enter but impossible to escape.
There are some construction and design restrictions to follow to use the crab trap.
- The trap should not be bigger than 18 cubic feet. There should also be two escape vents in each trap measuring at least 2- 3/8 inches in diameter.
- To mark the crab trap, attach it to a white floating buoy measuring a minimum of 6 inches in height, length, and width.
- The buoy center must also bear a contrasting color stripe of 2 inches wide.
- The crab trap must also feature a degradable panel with a minimum of 3/6 inch door with a construction method that can quickly and easily deteriorate, such as jute twine or untreated wire. This type of panel is necessary so that the crabs can easily escape if the trap is not emptied timely. Because if the crabs are left stuck in the trap, then due to food limitation, they will start eating each other.
Crabbing is a fun and delicious way to enjoy Texas’ coastline, allowing you to share a perfect outdoor experience with the kids, family, or friends.
With the TPWD featuring some restrictions and rules related to crabbing, it is important to go through the information mentioned here thoroughly. Doing so will ensure you a successful and fabulous experience with crabbing in Texas state.