Kayak Crabbing: A Simple Guide

Last Updated on April 25, 2021 by KayakPro

Despite being a widely popular activity, crabbing on kayaks is becoming a huge trend these days. It’s a cool adventure that every kayak owner should try.

If you’re looking for a simple guide to kayak crabbing, you’re in the right place! In the following article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the awesome activity!

Why Would You Go Kayak Crabbing?

The first question you might ask is, why would crabbing on a kayak be something intriguing to me. Whether you’re wondering about crabs or the kayaks, In this section, you’ll find answers to these questions.

Crabbing is Simple and Fun

If you already have a fishing kayak, you’re most likely a fan of catching marine creatures on a boat. In addition to regular fishing, crabbing can also be tons of fun.

A lot of people think that catching crabs is complicated when compared to fish.

But, It’s actually a relatively easy activity that doesn’t require a lot of tools and fishing accessories. This makes it perfect for bonding with your inexperienced family members and friends as well.

Adds Variety to Your Fishing Routine

If you’re used to going for the same kind of fish every time you use your kayak, you’re bound to get bored at some point.

Also, if you want to teach your kids about some new stuff about marine life, carbs will be a cool addition to their library.

You can easily catch the crabs to study their species, and have a closer look from a safe distance and release them back to the wild.

Crabs Taste Great

If you usually cook the fish you catch, the crab’s taste is also worth your time. Most crab species in the United States are safely edible.

Unlike fish, crab meat has a unique taste and you can cook them in a wide variety of ways and recipes.

Kayaks Allow You to Catch More Crabs

A lot of experienced crappers prefer using kayaks over regular boats for crabbing in some situations.

One of the main reasons is that kayak can have access to small areas where their large boats can’t reach.

Also, the nimble nature of a kayak makes it fairly easier to move between crabbing spots easier and quicker, which translates to more crabs to catch.

The Ideal Spots for Kayak Crabbing

Luckily, the United States is home to a wide variety of crab species in different spots across different states. Here are some ideal spots for kayak crabbing.


The Last Frontier is known for the huge abundance of crabs, with the Snow Crab and the Red King Crab being among the most profitable ones in the seafood industry.

One of the best things about crabbing in Alaska is that you don’t need a license for crabbing there. However, it’s quite cold for kayaking.


The entire state of Maryland is one of the largest spots for crabbing in the mainland USA. the more forgiving weather there makes it a perfect spot for kayak crabbing.

The Blue Crabs are popular within the state. They’re characterized by their glossy blue claws that can be easily spotted from a distance.


The Dungeness Crab is one of the most popular crabs in the United States. They’re large, meaty, and easily found all across the coasts of San Francisco.


Seattle is popular for its Dungeness and Red Rock Crabs. However, there are a lot of rules to follow as well as shellfish licenses to obtain before you can go kayak crabbing there.

Do You Need a Permit or a Licence for Kayak Crabbing?

This depends mainly on the location you’re crabbing. Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to fishing and hunting. Sometimes, shellfishing can have different rules from regular fishing.

Ideally, you should check the state’s Department of Wildlife or game to find out the rules of shellfishing.

Usually, all departments post their regulations on their website, so you won’t have trouble finding them.

When to Go Kayak Crabbing

Similar to regulations and licensing, the peak season for crabs varies according to species and locations.

Ideally, most crabs have their peak season before and after tides. For example, Maryland’s Blue Crabs are at their peak during the Fall Months.

Similarly, a lot of crabs are closest to the shore and easiest to find at late months of the year from September to December.

Things to Bring Along While Kayak Crabbing

The following list contains all the essential items you need to bring along while kayak crabbing. Let’s have a brief overview of each one of them.

looking for crabs

Crab Measuring Tools

As you already know, a lot of states have regulations in terms of the size of the crabs you can catch.

The best way to measure crabs efficiently is to use the crab gauge. This tool will help you to avoid getting into any legal troubles regarding the crabs’ sizes.

Crab Baits

Another critical item that you must bring is the crab bait. Crabs are happy eaters who will accept anything from frozen baits to squids. Sardines are also perfect bait for crabs if you want to catch a lot of them.

Crab Traps and Nets

You need to bring either of them to catch traps. However, traps and cages are designed to catch more than one crab at a time.

They can be anything from boxes, cages, or rings. Most kayak crab cages are foldable to save some space on your small kayak.

On the other hand, nets are only used for scooping the craps while catching them using the basic line method.

Cage Holder

Transporting your crab-filled cages safely to the shore can be a challenge on a small kayak. For that reason, you might need a kayak rack to keep them organized. This can be easily done by tying the cage to a PVC tubing to hold it upright.

Fish Finder

As you already know, crabs are usually roaming at the bottom of the ocean, so you’ll need to place your baits and traps there in order to catch them.

Finding the depth of the seabed isn’t as difficult as you might think. You can find it using a fish finder.

It’s one of the best tools to give you an insight into the seabed depth and the ideal spot to plant your cages and traps.

Fishing Lines or Ropes

According to the depth of the water, you need to bring along the fishing rope. Ideally, you should get a rope that’s about 10 to 20 feet longer than the deepest point in the water.


To save your time, you can place multiple traps at the same time and collect them all together at the end of the day.

However, if you’re doing this, you’ll need to attach a float to the end of the rope, so you can find them easily.

Kayak GPS

If you’re fishing in a spot with limited internet coverage, you might need a kayak GPS to be able to navigate your way safely. It’s also a good way to find all your crabbing pockets if you’re placing traps in far-away spots.

How to Catch Crabs on a Kayak

You can catch crabs in a variety of methods. Here are two popular methods that suit different purposes.

If You’re Returning Them Back to Water

The simple method of crabbing is only used if you’re planning to catch crabs for educational purposes only. In that case, you won’t need more than one crab at a time. The minimum requirements for this method are:

  • Crab net
  • Crab bait
  • Fishing line

All you need to do is add some bait to your crab line. After that, sink it all the way to the bottom and wait for any movement. Make sure that you’ve put enough weight on the line to keep it stable.

Once the line is triggered, start pulling it up slowly towards the surface. Use the net to surround the crab and scoop it up.

This might work as a shellfishing method. However, you’ll need a deep bucket to keep the crabs inside.

If You’re Taking Them Home

If you’re planning for a crab feast tonight, you’ll need to catch more than one crap at one go. The best way to do this is to use crab traps.

The minimum equipment for their method is:

  • Crab trap
  • Enough length of a rope
  • Crab bait

Simply put some bait inside the crab trap or cage and attach it to a rope then drop it into water.

Ideally, the length of the rope should be enough to reach the seabed, which is easily found using the fish finder.

Also, attach a float to find the location of your bait cage. Collect your cages after 1 to 3 hours, for the maximum amount of carbs per cage.

How to Cook the Crabs

The first thing to do after you get home is to scrub the crabs in the sink under running water. You can use any stiff brush and rinse the mud and sand off the shell.

Now that you’ve cleaned the crabs, you can cook them in various recipes. My favorite one is to boil them in a stockpot while adding salt and lime juice. 15 to 20 minutes are enough to have yourself an excellent crab feast!

Wrap Up

There you have it. A complete kayak crabbing guide with everything you need to know about that fun activity.

As you can see, kayak crabbing doesn’t need advanced equipment. However, it can be extremely rewarding thanks to its awesome taste and exotic looks!

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Ryan Stoltz

Ryan Stoltz

Avid kayaker and lover of the outdoors. Having been kayaking for over 7 years, I love sharing my experiences and learnings along the way. Currently kayaking in upstate New York and always open to new adventures!

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