A family day out in Looe is not complete without spending a relaxing couple of hours carefully catching crabs. Intense concentration, laughter and squeals of excitement are part of the daily scene along the quay side in Looe! Careful crabbing is great entertainment for all ages and enables children to learn about the life of crabs.
Looe Marine Conservation Group’s Crabbing Code sets out some simple rules to ensure you have fun while looking after the crabs and the marine environment. Look out for signs around the harbour and help us spread the word.
Best locations and times
- East Looe along the quay (either side of the Fish Market)
- West Looe along from the Ferry Steps toward Pennylands.
Crabs live in rocky places with plenty of seaweed to protect them from larger fish and birds. It can often be tricky to get a spot at high tide. The best time to go crabbing is either side of the high tide when the level of the river water is higher otherwise the crabs ‘let go’ before you have a chance to land them.
All you need is the Crabbing Code, bucket, net, weight and some bait. The bait can consist of fish, chicken or bacon.
You may not need to bring your own as many shops in Looe sell the whole kit for a couple of pounds.
Avoid buying the hooks as they can fall off the line and get caught in the mouths of sea birds and fish.
Looe is a working fishing port with frequent boat traffic on the river and commercial fishing equipment along the quayside including rope lines and ties.
Most sections of the quayside have no barriers so great care is needed at all times to avoid tripping/over balancing.
Close supervision of young children is essential at all times – taking special care to expect ‘a tug’ when throwing in a weighted line.
How to catch crabs carefully
Crabs naturally like to be under the cover of rocks or seaweeds so before you begin it is important fill your bucket with sea water and add some stones and seaweed.
- Fill the net with bait and let it sink to the bottom. Now you just need to wait and be patient. Leave your net in the water for at least ten minutes to allow the crabs to find your bait. They have a great sense of smell and it won’t take them long to sniff it out.
- Slowly pull up the line and place the crabs gently in the bucket.
- You may want to check whether your crab is male or female. You can find out by picking up a crab, turning it over and looking at the abdomen. A male will have a triangular shape in the middle and the female will be more rounded.
- Avoid putting more than one male crab in a bucket as they can be aggressive.
- It is important to limit the number of crabs in a bucket as they don’t naturally group together and they can become stressed. By putting up to three in a bucket you can watch what they do and how they move.
- You will need to change the water and the crabs in the bucket regularly as the temperature rises.
- It can be great fun to release the crabs near the water’s edge and watch them scurry into the water.
- When you have finished, please take everything away with you.