Flashlight, Net, Fun! Adventures in crabbing and how you can join in on the fun!

Crabbing is a celebrated coastal pastime. The pristine waters of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach provide an ideal habitat for a variety of crabs, lending themselves to this longstanding summer night tradition. Year after year, my wife and I make sure to take the family to the beach for a fun crabbing session during our annual summer vacation on the Gulf Coast.

Gulf Coast Blue Crab

I love crabbing on the Gulf Coast for three main reasons. For one, it’s easy. For two, blue crabs are bountiful – I love blue crab, and my daughter makes a delightful blue crab bisque. For three, this is a special activity that my whole family can enjoy together, regardless of age.

Whether you plan to eat your bounty or practice catch-and-release, crabbing offers people a unique opportunity to engage with this coastal crustacean. This is a pretty equipment-light event; all you really need is a flashlight and a net. You’ll want to bring a bucket with a little water in it if you intend to consume your crabs. And before we get into the details, I should note a few important things. You must have a saltwater fishing license in order to participate in recreational crabbing. Also, crab season co-occurs with sea turtle nesting season. Avoid areas of the beach that are marked off with yellow tape, and if you see turtle tracks in the sand, steer clear. We don’t want to disturb protected marine life during our crabbing fun.

Gulf Coast Crabbing

Now that we’ve got the ground rules out of the way, let’s move on to the fun. If you want to enjoy a family coastal encounter without bringing any crabs back to the kitchen, take the kids out for a beach stroll just after sundown. Around this time, you’ll discover little sand crabs lining the shore. Spot them out with a flashlight and let your young ones dash along the shoreline after them. My grandkids never seem to tire of it. My wife and I always have a blast with them.

On the other hand, if eating fresh, natural seafood caught by your own hand is the main motivation for your crabbing adventure, then you’ll want to take a different approach. Grab your net – or you can opt for a crabbing basket, which you can purchase from any tackle shop for a small price – and head to a pier or sea wall. Drop your net or basket and pull up your catch. Bait will increase your chance of success. Anything from chicken scraps to fish parts will do. You can even cast your net from a kayak or canoe! However you choose to go about it, you’re sure to have a great time crabbing on the Gulf Coast. I always do!