Recreational Crabbing Regulations 2016
We are having a banner season on Blue Crabs at the VA Beach Fishing Pier this year. It is a very simple process and can be enjoyable for the whole family.
A crab net or pot is lowered to the bottom of the water with a piece of bait tied in the net to attract the crabs. You tie the extra string to the railing of the pier and check it periodically. This might be the hardest part of the process, but you usually don’t have to wait long before you can pul lit up with some feisty Blue Crabs in the net.
If you plan to keep any crabs, be sure to have a bucket or cooler boig enough to store the crabs on ice. It is extremely important to keep them cool, but you should periodically drain the water and replace the melted ice to keep them fresh for cooking.
* Minimum size limits: 5 inches for male hard crabs (jimmies) and immature female hard crabs, 3 ¼ inches for peeler crabs caught from March 17 through July 15 and 3 ½ inches from July 16 until November 30 in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries; 3 ¼ inches for peeler crabs caught on the seaside of the Eastern Shore; and 3 1/2 inches for softshell crabs measured from tip to tip of the longest spikes. No size limits exist for adult female hard crabs (sooks) [Code 28.2-708, Regulation 4 VAC 20-270-55].
* Dark sponge (brown through black coloration) crabs must be returned to the water alive and not altered or destroyed in any manner during the period of March 17 thru June 30; however, a tolerance of 10 dark sponge crabs per bushel is allowed [4 VAC 20-370-20].
The Pier Tackle Shop on the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier can supply you with everything you need and is open 24/7.
“Jimmy” means a male hard crab with a narrow apron on the abdomen.
“Sook” means a mature female hard crab with a semicircular apron.
“She-crab” means an immature female hard crab with a triangular apron.
“Sponge crab” means an adult female hard crab which has extruded her eggs on the abdomen or abdominal flap. The egg mass or “Sponge” may contain about 2 million eggs.
“Peeler crab” means any crab with a soft shell fully developed under the hard shell. A white, pink, or red line on the outer section of the “backfin” is an indicator.
“Backfin” means the last leg of the crab, flattened to aid in swimming. Also known as the swimmer or paddle fin.
“Buster” means a crab that has begun to back out of its old shell.
“Softshell crab” means a crab which has recently emerged from its old shell. The new shell is soft and tender.
“Papershell” means a softshell crab whose shell has begun to harden. The shell stiffens and becomes tougher – usually within 12 hours after shedding the old shell.
“Doubler” means a male crab carrying a female crab prior to or after mating. Usually the females are peelers or softshells.