So Crabby


Crabbing is one of our all time favorite beach activities.  So fun to do as a family, and there is something so satisfying about catching a tasty dinner from the ocean.

The best places to crab are the sound side of narrow beach barrier islands such as Top Sail and the Outer Banks.  Our favorite spot ever is the public pier in Duck.

To crab effectively you will need

  • strong string about 20 feet long (to keep things fun we like to use about 6 at a time)
  • chicken necks (buy them at any grocery store near the ocean.  You may have to ask the butcher)
  • nets
  • a bucket to store the crabs you catch.


I don’t have very many quality pictures because this is a whole family affair!  As you can see it is a good activity when the weather is a little cooler since you can do it in sweatshirts.


  • Find a pier where crabbing is welcome (most public piers are perfect, or your beach accommodations may have one on site.  You want to be on the sound side, not the ocean side)
  • Tie a chicken neck at the end of each string you wish to use
  • drop the chicken necks in the water down to the ocean (sound) floor.  Since crabs can’t swim, the chicken neck needs to be on the ground where crabs can reach it, since they can’t swim.
  • After a few minutes, gently lift the strings to see if a crab has attached it self to the chicken neck.  You will be able to tell because the sting will feel heavier
  • If you think there is a crab on your neck, alert a member of your crabbing party to bring a net over
  • GENTLY lift the string.  As the neck gets closer to you, you will be able to see if there is a crab on it  If there is, have the person with the net GENTLY put the net in the water to scoop up the crab. This takes some coordination and you will inevitably loose some.


  • Turn the net over an empty bucket and gently shake until the crab falls in.  Place the crab in a bucket with NO water.  A bucket of water doesn’t have enough oxygen and the crabs will die.  They can live with out water for awhile. You can store multiple crabs in one bucket.
  • Bring them home and either cook immediately, or place in freezer until you are ready to eat.


Clean (this is gross, be warned) and then boil the crabs

WARNING: These guys mean business.  Be very careful to not get pinched.  Use tongs when dealing with crabs that are alive, and instill in kids a healthy sense of respect of their pinchers.


This guy is cooked — he’s pink.

Either serve the whole bodies up, letting the kids pick out the meat, or save the meat over several days and make crab cakes.  So good.  IMG_2763


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