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Offline JV

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Peeler Crabs
« on: June 07, 2012, 06:18:59 PM »
Our spotlight article for June 2012

A bucket of peeler crab, arguably the UK sea anglers favourite bait.



Sought after by anglers and deadly for just about all types of shore fish, it's no wonder everybody wants them!  In this spotlight article we will discuss how to collect them and keep for use as fresh bait.  It may come across as a little strange but I won't go into freezing them down for future bait in this article as this is something I don't do.  Crabs that I collect are used by myself or by friends quickly and I simply never get enough to freeze for myself.  Others who have more experience than I have of freezing can discuss how they do it within this thread if the question is asked.  Any other ways you've found to keep them can also be discussed in this thread to.

How to collect your peeler crabs

I find large muddy river estuaries normally have a good population of crabs and this is where I would place my traps.  Crabs can be collected on the open shore to in shallow rock pools or under weedy rock ledges around the low water mark.  Peelers on the open shore are normally harder to find and are harder work to collect than those found in muddy estuaries.

The peeling process normally starts around the month of May and large numbers of crab peel in one go, this is called the "peel", after this initial glut of peeling crabs which can last for a few weeks, they become harder to find in any numbers.  If the weather is mild in September crabbers often see a second smaller peel that can last through to November.  The onset of colder temperatures and frosty nights puts a stop to the crabs peeling process.  In the South West of England it's often just about warm enough in winter for the crabs to keep peeling.  This is when live Devon crabs become sought after and the price of this bait goes through the roof.

Crab traps



I can't condone messing up the foreshore with old car tyres and bits of roof tiling but if you can find a secluded spot near an old industrial site to lay your traps, you shouldn't have any bother. The police have tried to convict people in the past for littering but the case against the said offender was thrown out when explained at court that the old car tyres placed in the estuary were for the collection of bait.  However having said that still be careful where you put them as 200 car tyres would look a little out of place stretched across a local tourist beach!!!

Traps need to be dug into the mud and half filled with mud to attract peeling crabs and to keep them in place.  I have cut a hole in each of my tyres to let out most of the air that could lift them off the mud when the tide covers them.

Why do crabs peel

Crabs have their skeleton on the outside of their body, this is the shell.  Inside the shell they are soft and juicy, the shell protects this soft body from predators. To grow larger they must pop off this shell, which is a bit like a human getting rid of an old jacket when their too fat for it!  The crab will look for somewhere to hide from predators while it loses it's hard shell and turns into a vulnerable soft crab. Over a short length of time the crabs new shell will harden and the crab will have gained in size.

How to tell if your crab is peeling

Basically there are two ways, you can remove the tip of a leg segment and if the meat underneath is brown and looks meaty like the furthest leg to the left in this pic below, then your crab is a peeler.



If the meat underneath is white and sinewy your crab is what we call a "dogger" and is of little or no value as bait. Some crabs are in between these two stages and these are called "snotties" due to the snotty look of the meat. I prefer to put snotties back but some crabbers will keep these in a covered trap until they are ready and about to peel.

The most obvious way to tell if a crab is peeling is if it is losing it's shell, a hairline crack appears around both sides of the top segment of shell just above the legs and this crack widens (below pic) until the crab literally removes itself backwards from the old shell and legs.  This crab is in perfect condition to use as a bait, too hard and they are not as good.



A softback crab is a crab that has just lost all of it's shell and is waiting for it to harden, these can be used as bait but are normally not as effective as a peeler in prime condition due to fluid loss.  Some anglers do swear by them as great bait however and they are worth a try for sure!

How I keep my peelers fresh

A fridge set at 6 degrees centigrade is a must as is plenty of sea water.  I keep my crabs in potting trays that you can buy from Wilkinsons for 80p each.  I drill a couple of small holes in the tray and stick a couple of garden rods through the holes as in the pic below. No more than 15 crabs per tray at any time as crowding can lead to them dying quickly!



The rods help me get more crabs into my fridge without crushing the crabs in the trays, neatly stacked trays, you can store well over 100 crabs this way in a small fridge.



Cover your crabs with either salt water soaked sheets of newspaper or soaked tea towels, I just use newspaper as it's cheap and easy to get hold of and to replace.



Spray your crabs with clean sea water each day, and also totally submerge them in clean sea water every two to three days for aprox 10 minutes.  Crabs need to take in sea water to expand their bodies and pop their shell, no sea water means no peeling! Take out any that are looking sick or dead each day and keep the newspaper soaked.  Check regulary for popping crabs and use these as bait first. Crabs kept like this can easily be kept fresh for 3 weeks at a time.

If I'm going on a fishing trip and I know that a lot of my crabs are a little too hard for use straight away, I simply put them in a bucket of sea water, keep them cool and let them get on with it while I drive.  I'll change the sea water at regular intervals while fishing and I find that most crabs become usable within a few hours.

Using your peeler crab as bait

It's considered humane to kill your crab with a sharp knife pushed through the shell just behind the eyes before use. Then just peel off all of the shell from the crab, you can peel the legs to which are a good flounder bait.  Use the whole crab body for bigger fish like cod or smoothound, or alternatively cut the body into smaller pieces and use as a smaller bait when after small fish.  Bind on your crab with elastic bait thread or alternatively put the hook through the remaining leg sections as long as your not power casting. 

Thread peeler legs up the hook like a worm, leave a few dangly bits of leg though to entice the fish. If your fishing for smoothounds or wrasse in an area plagued with lesser spotted dogfish, leave all of the shell on, hook the crab whole just below the middle of it's body and bind on with bait elastic.  Dogfish hate the shell.

As soon as you cut a crab into pieces it becomes less effective as a bait, losing scent quickly, so small peelers are best for flounder and other small fish, small crab don't need to be cut into bits.



Other crab facts

Crabs that are carrying females underneath their bodies are always carrying a peeler, the female crab below will be a peeler.

The term for a male crab is a dog, it has a pointy abdomen segment underneath, the term for a female crab is a hen, it has a rounded abdomen segment underneath. Many anglers believe the hens are the best for bait but I've not noticed any difference at all.

Please discuss anything peeler crab related below in the following thread, I hope you enjoyed this article.

Article by David Rogers
"For we are the Vikings tamers of the deep" Check out my blog http://viking-valhalla.blogspot.co.uk/

AnglingBuddy

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2012, 06:32:07 PM »
how on earth have you got  pics of my fridge  :laugh:

some good info there dave  [url=http://www.desismileys.co

Offline Dave

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2012, 08:22:19 PM »
great article Dave  [url=http://www.desismileys.co
two 15 minute drinks of sea water every 12 hours has been working for me, maybe i've been spoiling them after reading your method  :laugh:

Offline BrianJ

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2012, 08:45:33 PM »
Brilliant article Dave. Some really good info.
I will only be out for a couple of hours pet.

kirky

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2012, 08:55:19 PM »
When i used to freeze them down I used a tray put some salt in mix it with hot water let it cool then dip crabs in then freeze idea being the crystals are smaller than normal,making them better if left in the freezer longer than normal used them a year later and they were perfect

Der1974r

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2012, 05:39:02 PM »
Good read that Dave , av just been up to wilkinsons to copy your idea for the trays good idea. Probably be Abel to double the amount of crab In a fridge now cause they mounting up now must get out and use some up :)

AnglingBuddy

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2012, 05:46:17 PM »
Good read that Dave , av just been up to wilkinsons to copy your idea for the trays good idea. Probably be Abel to double the amount of crab In a fridge now cause they mounting up now must get out and use some up :)
Pleased  your reaping your rewards now der after all that hard graft  [url=http://www.desismileys.co

Offline JV

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2012, 06:00:16 PM »
Great stuff Derek, it's surprising just how many of those trays you can fit into a fridge when crab converted  ^-^ you may even be lucky enough to fit more of the wilko trays into your fridge if you turn them front edge facing...... getting even more peelers in.
"For we are the Vikings tamers of the deep" Check out my blog http://viking-valhalla.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Davey-m

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2012, 06:44:19 PM »
 [url=http://www.desismileys.co Good info for the lads who collection or buy their precious crab and want to preserve it for longer.
I beat the cod challenge!

Der1974r

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2012, 11:07:05 PM »
I haven't really got many in this week trev got 40 in up to now , but al be putting 10 a day in next week when the kids are back to school, but it's a good location think it will produce enough for me and a few m8s .     Thanx again for the tips Dave probs just. Need one fridge now & keep worm the same way come winter

AnglingBuddy

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2012, 11:48:52 PM »
telt ya der if ya need any help giz a shout ,im not wanting to be any a part of it .. what mates are  there for   [url=http://www.desismileys.co

Der1974r

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2012, 09:27:20 AM »
Cheers trev all give ya a bell if a start struggling

Andrew

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2012, 01:13:44 PM »
Credit where credit is due JV this is a very helpful and informative post for anyone out there wondering how to collect, store and care for there Peeler Crab to make it into prime peeling condtion to use.  [url=http://www.desismileys.co

As for myself I do the same, I have 5 trys and 3 air pumps for when I need to get my crab peeling quicker, but what many people dont realize is that temperature play a key part in how fast the crab will peel. Generally having the fridge set at 5 to 7*c will keep the crabbing peeling at a steady if not slower rate if you want to keep your crab longer. I've noticed from personal experience that having the fridge set between 8 and 10*c tends to make the crab and get them into a peeling state a lot faster, which is good if you want to get your crab frozen down faster for the winter or you have up and coming matches, etc.

As said though JV, cracking advice mate, great for any newbies or people pout ther wanting to collect and store peeler crab of there own. :)

Offline dave1945

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2012, 02:20:51 PM »
as ever a cracking post a boon to all new members who are not familer with peelers,keep your posts coming .davy.

Offline Dave

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Re: Peeler Crabs
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 10:26:32 PM »
just thought i'd ask on this thread instead of opening another topic
right, i've done a search on freezing down peeler and one thing i picked up on is some say you need to remove the gills and others say its not necessary
wondered what you's lads reckon ???

 

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