- In Texas, the entire Gulf of Mexico offers access points for crabbing — from the shore, from piers, docks and jetties, or by boat in the deep blue waters that carve out the southern part of the state. Just be sure you understand the distinction between blue crabs and stone crabs: You may catch blue claw crabs to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content, but there are rigid catch limits on stone crabs.
When fully grown the spine of the blue crab may be more than 8 inches wide. The abdomen and lower legs are white. The crab claws are various shades of blue, make sure you don’t keep the females, if you see eggs on the underbelly let them go. The females can also be identified by their red claws, if not sure throw thumbtack as well.
Blue crabs eat almost anything, but for some reason don’t get the scavenger rep. It’s predators include Red Drum, Croaker, Herons, Sea turtles and us. At 12 to 18 months, blue crabs have reached sexual maturity. They are the Sexiest Creature in the Sea. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.
Although blue crabs can be found almost anywhere along the Atlantic coastline and the Gulf of Mexico shoreline they are most abundant on the stretch of coast from New Orleans to Corpus Christie. Maryland actually purchases most of their restaurant grade crabs from a fishery in Beaumont Texas and Port Author.
- Where are the crabs?
They like to congregate under piers and docks and bridges, under rocky areas that meet the shore, the muddy bottoms bays and grassy bottom shallow areas. Think about good shoreline fishing spots and you will usually find an abundance of blue crabs. Some people set traps in the bay with buoy markers.
Here are some great spots to visit.
Lets start in Texas, our family has been crabbing Galveston for 40 years plus. You will need to cross the causeway on hwy I-45 from Texas City to Galveston. When you hit the island turn right on 38th street, when you hit the Seawall turn left, the beach will be on your right. Continue on until the road dead ends to the open sea. Turn right, you’ll see the crab hole about 70 yards down on the left
Anywhere along the interior shoreline of Paradise Island just off the coast of Port Arthur. String and net method works best here.
The Corpus Christi area offers the Aransas Pass. Hang out where all the boat charters dock they tend to stay close to the fish cleaning stations. At times this area is much more productive than the Galveston’s crab hole.
Lake Charles, La is Another great place to catch them.
Want to Catch Blue Crabs and Crawfish. -New Orleans is the Ticket!
The Bonnet Carrie Spillway a Favorite Spot of the Locals
Blue crabs will eat most anything in their natural habitat, from sea worms to small fish, mollusks, decaying fish and even smaller crabs. Bait your traps with the most oily, smelly fish heads or chicken necks you can find. They can see up to 40 feet depending on water clarity, but they hunt their prey by smell.
Many crabbers in the Gulf use crab cages however, easier and less expensive hoop traps, box traps and pyramid traps are commonly used. I have linked these traps to Amazon they are all affordable and very effective.
Or simply use a string and a fishing net.
Both methods are fun and very affective.
Crab season in Texas is typically May thru September in the colder months they tend to move out to sea where the water is warmer on the ocean floor.
Ok, we have caught our crabs, What now?
If your crabs die before you have a chance to cook them, (Keep in mind the Meat can go bad within an hour or two from their demise.) If this happens throw them out they can cause stomach issues. To avoid this…
Don’t empty your crab trap until you are ready to cook or clean the crabs.
You can submerge the trap in a large container of sea water an aerator (bubble blower) helps as well.
Kill and clean the crabs as you go, putting them on ice or in the fridge to keep them from spoiling
Cleaning the Crabs
Many people just throw the crabs in a pot of seasoned boiling water this is fine but can get quite messy when its dinner time. You then will need to rip the shells off and scoop out the yellow mustard paste, some people like the mustard and claim it adds to the flavor.
I have found cleaning the crabs before cooking is best and makes for a better presentation. Using a pair of tongs flip the crab over on its back and pierce the underside with an ice pick right at the top point of the triangle shell section. It takes only one stab to get the job done, and then you can pull off the shell easily.
Now that the outer shell is removed simply pull off the gray scales. Next, rinse out the inside gel with a quick spray in the sink. The crabs are now ready to be cooked. Don’t throw the crab shells out you can use them for gumbo or deviled crab.
Now just place on a cooking metal tray season with salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with melted lemon butter.
How To Make Deviled Crab.
Step One – Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1 cup melted butter, 4 cups breadcrumbs, and next 3 ingredients. Spoon crabmeat mixture into 10 baking shells or individual baking dishes.
Step 2 – Top servings evenly with remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs; drizzle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup melted butter. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Turn oven setting to broil. Broil 3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.
Keep in mind or rule of thumb it takes a gallon and a half of water per one dozen crabs. Fill your pot about 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Add ½ cup of sea salt, 2 sliced lemons, and 3 tbsp of Old Bay seasoning. Stir these ingredients in with the water. This will provide added flavor to the crab and the salt will also increase the boiling point of the water, helping to cook the crab more thoroughly.
Next, add the crabs one by one, leaving the claws attached. Let them cook for 8-10 minutes. You may also choose to add garlic, dill, paprika, cumin, and/or other spices.
After cooling a minute, pour crabs out onto a newspaper-covered table and dig in. Melted butter and lemon are a great addition.
Serve the crab on a platter with melted butter or other dipping sauce. Boiled potatoes and core are great side dishes. Enjoy!
- Turn the crab belly-side up with the face closest to you. Using your hands or the tip of a butter knife, lift the triangular piece of shell at the tail of the crab (the apron), break it off, and discard it. Pick up the crab with your hands, place a thumb in the hole where the apron was (you may need to pry it open with a butter knife), and pull in one motion to remove the top shell from the rest of the body. Turn the crab belly-side down with the tail closest to you. Remove and discard the soft, pointy gills from the body. Using a butter knife, cut the front (mouth) of the crab off and scrape away any remaining bits of gill and viscera left on the body of the crab.Flip the crab over and hold it so that the legs are horizontal and your thumbs are firmly placed on the belly, then snap the crab in half. Starting at the back fin of the crab, pull the delicate bits of shell away and pick out the meat inside the body. Carefully pull the legs away from the body and pick out any meat attached to the leg joints. Twist the legs to crack open the shell and pick the meat out. Pick the shell from each chamber in the body of the crab and pull out the crabmeat.Break each claw in half at the joint. Using a seafood mallet or the handle of the butter knife, firmly tap the shell of each piece until it breaks apart. (Don’t hit the shell too hard or it will splinter into the crabmeat.) Wiggle the pincer and gently pull it away from the claw. Serve with melted butter for dipping.