Small crabs as bait

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shawny

Guest
#1
I've been finding those small shore crabs in the stomachs of rockfish. And just yesterday caught a rockfish with a baby spider crab in it's stomaach! I'm really curious.. anyone have experience using small crabs as rockfish bait? Is that even.. legal?!

In general, does anyone have experience in finding interesting bait in the stomachs of fish you catch and then using that knowledge to change up your bait later on with success?

Thanks in advance.

Shawn
 
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#3
You can’t use crabs and crustations that are under the size limit and/or possess amounts over the bag limit and/or possess species out of season. Just to be safe, use only those stripped common shore crabs. Some game wardens will give you a hard time about lesser commonly seen crabs.
 
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sea++

Guest
#4
I've been finding those small shore crabs in the stomachs of rockfish. And just yesterday caught a rockfish with a baby spider crab in it's stomaach! I'm really curious.. anyone have experience using small crabs as rockfish bait? Is that even.. legal?!

In general, does anyone have experience in finding interesting bait in the stomachs of fish you catch and then using that knowledge to change up your bait later on with success?

Thanks in advance.

Shawn

I’ve used shore crabs as bait a few times and have always caught a few fish on them as long as I can keep them on the hook long enough. Anything you find in the stomach of your catch is worth considering for bait as long as you’re not violating any regs by using or harvesting it.

I’ve had more success hooking them with baitholders and octopus hooks than circle hooks but your mileage may vary. The smaller the better imo but if you’re catching larger ones consider cutting them in half then hooking them. I’ve also found it easy to bring along a pair of long handle kitchen tongs to reach into those crevices to grab them if I know in advance that I want to catch them. Might seem strange but it saves me a ton of time wrangling up bait.

Also, be aware of regs in the area you’re fishing. Some prime rockfishing spots are within SMCAs that only allow for the recreational take of finfish (and maybe kelp haha). That means no harvesting crabs or mussels in that area, even for bait.
 

DSRTEGL

Well-known member
#5
The Purple Shore Crabs make good bait for shellcrackers like the big rubberlip and pile perch.......Know your local regs regarding legal use......Smaller is better and soft shell are even better still......peel the shell off the larger ones.....cut the body section with the legs in half and fish those.......smash up the rest for chum........My preferred shell size is about the size of my thumbnail or a little smaller.....
 
#6
The regs say all but sand crabs have to be 4", which is a little confusing considering most shore crabs are tiny. The yellow shore crabs make good black perch bait - they must work for rockfish too, but I'm not sure it's the kind of bait that would provoke an aggressive strike. Seems more like forage food to me.
 
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S

sea++

Guest
#7
The regs say all but sand crabs have to be 4", which is a little confusing considering most shore crabs are tiny. The yellow shore crabs make good black perch bait - they must work for rockfish too, but I'm not sure it's the kind of bait that would provoke an aggressive strike. Seems more like forage food to me.
If the shore crabs are still alive or on the small side when used, I’ve gotten plenty of hungry strikes from grassies and cabs when I’ve presented it on a hook close to the bottom both on a dropper loop or, if you have a little more room to breathe and don’t fear getting snagged easily, a sliding sinker rig.

As far as regs go, here is what 29.05 says (I’ve bolded the part that’s relevant to our discussion):


29.05. General.

(a) Except as provided in this article there are no closed seasons, closed hours or minimum size limits for any invertebrate. The bag limit on all invertebrates for which the take is authorized and for which there is not a bag limit otherwise established in this article is 35. In San Francisco and San Pablo bays and saltwater tributaries east of the Golden Gate Bridge invertebrates may not be taken at night except from the shore.

(b) Take of all invertebrates is prohibited within state marine reserves. Take of certain invertebrates may be prohibited within state marine parks and state marine conservation areas as per sub-section 632(b). In addition, tidal invertebrates may not be taken in any tidepool or other areas between the high tide mark (defined as Mean Higher High Tide) and 1,000 feet seaward and lateral to the low tide mark (defined as Mean Lower Low Water) except as follows:

(1) Except where prohibited within state marine reserves, state marine parks, state marine conservation areas, or other special closures only the following may be taken: red abalone, limpets, moon snails, turban snails, chiones, clams, cockles, mussels, rock scallops, native oysters, octopuses, squid, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sand dollars, sea urchins and worms except that no worms may be taken in any mussel bed, unless taken incidental to the harvesting of mussels.

(c) Measuring Devices. Every person while taking invertebrates which have a size limit shall carry a device which is capable of accurately measuring the minimum legal size of the species taken.

(d) In all ocean waters skin and Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) divers may take invertebrates as provided in this article except that in all ocean waters north of Yankee Point (Monterey Co.), SCUBA may be used only to take sea urchins, rock scallops and crabs of the genus Cancer. For the purpose of this section, breathing tubes (snorkels) are not SCUBA.
 

Ken Jones

Administrator
Staff member
#9
Small shore crabs are great bait for perch, I.e., blackperch, pileperch and rubberlip. It’t Natural food for any perch large enough to eat them. Same with cabezon and inshore rock fish. Down in SoCal they’re commonly taken from pilings at low tide while many people check the inshore rocks by piers in San Francisco Bay to get the small crabs. Natural bait is hard to beat.