I’m beginning to realize that my assessment of dropping crab pots on the way out and then picking them back up after fishing as being “easy peazy” may not be universally agreed upon. I thinking in particular of those guests on my boat that aren’t crabbing and just came out to fish. It does take a bit of time heading out to drop our pots and I know folks are anxious to get a line in the water. Then at the end of the day when people are tired, they have to wait for us to pull each pot, measure & count the crabs, dump the bait and stow the gear before we head back to the marina. I was especially noticing this just this weekend when on Saturday I had a guest on board who was feeling the call of nature and really was anxious to get back to the marina and the rest rooms. Then on Sunday I had a friend on board who decided the best way to make a 5:00 am dock time, was to do an all-niter. By the time we were done fishing, I had a zombie on my boat that needed a big nap.
I’ve been considering about how best to approach this issue, and I think I’ve come up with a solution. It goes something like this: It’s my boat and I’m getting’ ma crab.
I’m the captain so therefore —————————>
Besides, crabbing is kind of a fail safe against coming home empty handed on those days when the fish aren’t biting. This past weekend was a good example of that too. I swear I couldn’t buy a strike Saturday or Sunday. Fishing sucked but we went home with crab.
In fact, we’ve been slaying the crab lately, often having to throw back some because we are over limit. Followers of my FaceBook page know that I’ve been using a new broadcast bait I call “pink slime”.
Before I get into that though, I’ll go over the two types of bait we use.
First there is the broadcast bait. That’s there to give off a good scent trail to draw the crab in. Fish guts & scraps work well for this as does the pink slime. Basically anything that is pungent and oily.
The second is the feeder bait. That is hung inside the trap to give the crabs something to munch on so that they will stay around. Even with the little swinging doors on those traps, crab can and do crawl out of them. So like any good host, you put out a little food tray for your guests; or in this case you put out some fish heads or chicken legs for them. It’s like saying to the crab, Where are you going in such a hurry? Sit down, have some cake. (that’s funnier if you read it with a New York Jewish accent)
To be fair, I should point out that my business situation does make life easier for me when it comes to things like bait prep, storage, fish cooking, etc. I’m a professional Chef, so I have a commercial kitchen, professional cooking equipment, walk-in refrigeration and most importantly in this case, access to some useful scraps and trimmings.
Still this is very doable at home. If you don’t have a food processor, you can just spend a little time chopping up the meat with a knife, or you can just buy ground chicken or turkey. You can usually buy scraps for dirt cheap from your local butcher. If not, find the cheapest boneless chicken at the market you can, like thigh meat and/or gizzards. Remember, skin and fat are good things in this case.
We go through a lot of chicken at work, so after it has been trimmed and cleaned we end up with a fair amount of fat, grizzle and scraps left over. Usually it goes into the stock pot but I’ve been taking some to make my pink slime. I haven’t tried putting other meat or fish scraps into it yet, but those should work every bit as well. The other ingredient is Pautzke’s Crab & Shrimp Fuel. There are a number of liquid scent attractants out there, but I’ve had my best luck with Pautzke’s. Plus it’s the most reasonably priced one I’ve encountered.
That’s all there is to it, chicken scraps and Pautzke’s crab fuel blended up in a food processor.
Then I take big mounds of it, wrap it in plastic wrap.
I roll that into logs and freeze it.
Once unwrapped and dropped into the crab pot’s bait cage, the pink slime logs slowly let the oils from the chicken, the crab fuel and tiny flecks of chicken go floating in the current and it brings the crabs running.
If you are doing a short soak of the pots, say two hours or less, the pink slime is all you need. If you are going longer than that, I suggest using a feeder bait as well. As I mentioned before, I usually hang a whole fish head inside the pot for the crab to munch on. I just run a zip tie through the lip and attach it to the inside of the trap. However if I hadn’t caught any fish the day before, as was the case last weekend, I’ll sometimes just buy cheap chicken legs from the market and use them as feeder bait.
The pink slime has been working so well that I’ve found myself with quite a load of crab meat lately. Of course I’ve given a good deal away, but even with that I’ve had a lot of crab to play with. Like most people, I’m a fan of the more rich crab dishes: crab cakes, risotto, etc. Just last week I made a creamy Swiss chard & crab dish that came out deliciously decadent. However, being the height of summer, I thought I’d share with you a crab dish that’s more on the lighter, refreshing side.
Tropical Crab Cocktail
1 lb cooked, picked crab meat … Find my basic steamed crab recipe here
1 ripe mango, peeled & diced
1 orange cut into supremes, excess juice included. I used a blood orange.
½ a ripe avocado, peeled & diced
juice of ½ lime
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
Gently fold all ingredients together being careful not to break the crab or the fruit apart.
Serve in martini glasses. Makes 4 portions
It’s a simple recipe and a flexible one. Feel free to try different fruits if you like. Pineapple, kiwi, papaya or any number of other fruits would be good in this. If you are not a fan of cilantro, try basil or Italian parsley in it’s place.
Then enjoy this on the porch …. excuse me, on the veranda with a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Until next time … stay classy. 😉