In these days of tight cash and kids still, on holiday, it’s great to find things to do that come free. Crab fishing has been practised by coastal children forever.
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A string, a stone for weight and some tasty bait are all that’s required to fill a few hours by the sea. Find a quiet pier when the tide is coming in. The crabs that live in the muddy or moderately stoney seabed come out to feed when the tide is getting fuller. Make a line by tying a medium-sized stone almost at the end of a long piece of string. At the very end of the string, tie the bait. Crabs like bacon rashers or even limpet flesh, if you find some limpets clamped to the pier.
Lower the string so the stone hits the bottom, then wait. Very soon there’ll be a flurry of the little pincered creatures scurrying to latch onto your food offering. These crabs are the small green ones – they aren’t really edible so it’s more about the fun than the gourmet experience. Haul your string up in a long smooth action, to avoid losing your catch. You can collect your crabs in a bucket but make sure you put them all back into the water before you leave. Sustainable fishing!
Crab fishing stirs up huge competition and brings out the huntress in women! This writer has been known to fight with her teenage daughter to the point of using sneak tactics to catch the most crabs! Healthy family rivalry! West Cork is a great place to catch crabs. Smaller piers and causeways around the coast provide a safe location and the water doesn’t need to be deep. In fact, it’s best if there are only a few feet of water because you can actually see the crabs taking the bait.
There’s a knack in picking them up when you want to remove them from the line. Beware, the smaller they are the nippier they become! Simply place one finger on the top centre of the shell and press down, which usually immobilises them for a few seconds. Then using the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, pick them up by the pointed bits at each side of the top shell. Be sure to keep other fingers out of the way because it doesn’t take long for them to attempt a pinch.
If you’re in the West Cork region, you might want to enjoy some seafood after your fishing adventures. O’Connor’s Seafood of Bantry, The Crookhaven Inn at Crookhaven, and Fishy Fishy and Jim Edwards in Kinsale are all renowned for the best seafood dishes in the area.
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