Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to set up a kayak for crabbing

I have had several people ask how I set the kayak up for crabbing so I figured I would make an entry and video showing exactly what I use and how to rig it. As with almost everything from the kayak...the simpler you keep it.. the better you are.
With that said I took my experiences as a little kid crabbing and thought how can I adapt this to work from the kayak. When I was growing up we exclusively used hand lines hanging off the boat all around it and it produced pretty good results. With the kayak this is possible but not nearly as effective since the kayak is a lot smaller and you're pretty much confined to your seat.

What I came up with was making several floats that had a weight and a hook on the end of it. I use the hook to hold the chicken in place and have never had a crab get it off. If you put the hook through some of the tendons on a drumstick or through the throat of the chicken neck it makes a great hold. I use 3 oz weights to hold them on the bottom and keep the current from pushing them. Its pretty cool because once you get the lines rigged, you can paddle and toss the floats as you go. When the chicken sinks to the bottom is automatically unwinds so you can toss the floats quickly without having to wait for it to hit the bottom.

I normally crab in about 8-10 feet of water so all of my lines are about 15 feet long.  You want to have about 5-8 feet more line and I'll explain that in a minute. Let the lines soak for 10~15 minutes then check your first one.

I usually deploy all my lines going down stream because you can keep a straighter line but it doesn't really matter for this part. When you check them though you want to go up stream or against the current. Approach the float on a glide but with not a lot of speed. This is where the extra slack comes in. The slack allows you to pick the float up and if you timed your speed right you should be just over top of the bait when you come to a stop. With the slack you to get right over top of the bait without jerking it from the crab or spooking it.

Next you want to put just a little bit of pressure on the line because sometimes you can feel the crab holding onto the bottom and if you just pull he will let go. Usually with a little bit of pressure he will release from the bottom and hang on to the line. Pull this up very gradually and smooth (a lot of times you can actually feel him still picking at the bait as your coming up and can notice the difference in weight of the line. I use a small piece of electrical tape about 2-3 feet above the hook and this serves as a reference point for me. When I see the electrical tape I know how far the bait is from the surface and can get the net ready and know that I do not need to pull hand over hand anymore. The distance you put the electrical tape should be an arms length away from the hook so that you can hold the tape with one hand and by the time you have raised your arm all the way up, the bait should be just at the surface of the water. Without this you can pull and pull and then the crab pops up without knowing how close it is. I usually slow down at this point because this is when he is most likely to let go and bolt.

95% of the time if you bring the crab out of the water it will immediately let go so you want to scoop him while the bait is still in the water. I use a wire net for this so the crab does not get all tangled up in the nylon net which can be a pain to untangle.

Because this process take ~20 minutes for 6-8 floats, it is usually time to check your first one again after you do the last float in the line. I usually just let the current push me back to the first one or make it a nice easy paddle. Don't over do how hard you paddle for this part because all of these laps back and forth quickly add up. I usually paddle more miles crabbing than I do fishing and the launch is only about 1/4 mile from where I crab so conserving your energy is important. 

Check out the video below and you should be able to see everything else I use to keep the catch in the kayak. Let me know if you guys have anymore questions and I'll do my best to explain!

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