Crabbing in Chincoteague

Crabbing is an enjoyable family activity on Chincoteague Island. Catching blue crabs does not require much in the way of equipment or skill. Crabbing can be done from a boat, pier, near bridges or along the shoreline. Crabbers need only a line, weight, bait and dip net for the traditional rig, or an inexpensive crab trap, which eliminates the need for a dipping crabs up.

The simpler rig is just twine, a sinker and whatever bait you can obtain, tied on the line. The line is then lowered into the water, and gently raised once a tug is felt. Serious crabbing baits include fresh fish, eels, bull lips and other baits but the most basic bait, chicken necks, work just as well on a hand line. The traps are used in a similar fashion, except that the trap is lifted sharply to close the doors suddenly and capture any crabs that are inside.

Some of the most accessible spots to crab around Chincoteague are the ramps and docks at Queen Sound, the town dock near the drawbridge, Memorial Park and along the bridges onto Assateague Island. Once on Assateague, visitors can crab in the refuge, just before the beach.

Crabs should be kept damp and cool and steamed as soon as possible. They are simple to cook, and can be steamed whole or chilled, then the backs removed and rinsed out before steaming. In either case, the crabs are sprinkled with crab seasoning and steamed until they are bright orange. Serve with melted butter and a cold refreshment! Crabmeat is also excellent in a variety of dishes and even freezes well for short periods.

Check with your local tackle shops for bait, equipment and regulations. Two friendly and well equipped tackle shops on the island are Steve's Bait and Tackle on Maddox Blvd. and Capt. Bob's Marina on Main Street.

Chincoteague Bay Crab Cakes

Makes about 8 crab cakes

1 lb. lump crabmeat
1 egg
2 slices shredded bread
1  teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/4  teaspoon. salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon baking powder

Lightly beat the eggs, condiments and spices in small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread and crabmeat. Add the egg mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the crabmeat gently, trying not to break up the lumps. Mold the crab mixture into cakes and place on a baking sheet covered with waxed paper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Once chilled, fry in a hot skillet or broil at 350 F until brown.

Serve fried crab cakes immediately. Broiled crab cakes may be served up hot or may be left warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve with sandwich rolls and fresh tomatoes.

Love crabs but don't want to catch them yourself? Visit any of the seafood shops on Chincoteague for the freshest live crabs, steamed crabs, crabcakes and soft crabs. Chincoteague Island .Net features a full listing of Chincoteague Island Virginia seafood shops.

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Submitted by: cin