Crabbing in The Outer Banks

A bushel of #1 Jimmies just cost our family $125.00 in peak season in Duck, Outer Banks.

We have decided to learn how to hand line crab for ourselves.


It is possible to crab in the Outer Banks in the following ways:

  1. Hand Line
  2. Crab Trap


We will concentrate on Outer Banks hand line crabbing in this article.

Do I need a License to Crab in the Outer Banks?

Unfortunately you will need a fishing license if you are sixteen years or older.

Out of state residents will pay $10.00 for a 10 day pass, and in staters pay $5.00.

A North Carolina Crabbing / Fishing license is good for fishing in the sound, off the pier or in the ocean.

Where is the best Place to Catch Crab in the Outer Banks?

Crab Fishing Dock in the Outer Banks Duck

Typically the best place for crabbing in the Outer Banks is near a low dock over the water on the bay side.  The water here is brackish, and very suitable for Blue Crabs.  If you can get out further with a boat, you will catch the bigger Outer Banks Crabs, most often caught with traps. Hand line crabbing is is always done in the calm sound waters, not in the ocean.

How Do I Catch the Crabs?

Ok – this is the fun part.  Go head and pick up:

  • Long-handled dip net
  • Strong line made for hand-line crabbers
  • Chicken legs or chicken wings
  • Cooler – store your chicken and catch in the cooler – don’t let the crab hit the water though
  • It is also advisable to get some thongs of some kind to grab the blue crabs with

Tie a knot around your chicken, and extend 10-15 feet of line out, then tie the other end to your dock or whatever you are fishing near.   Throw the bait in the water and wait.

Give it a little time, and your may see your line starting to stretch or pull – you have an official Outer Banks Blue Crab on your line!  Now be patient.  Slowly, without any herky jerky movements, slowly start pulling the crab in.  They a pretty dumb, and will not notice the motion if you are good.

If you have had success pulling your crab in, bring it along side the dock, and slowly lift it while slipping your net under neath.  Then pull the crab, string bait and net all up at the same time.  If you are quick, you would have success catching your first Outer Banks Crab!

Does the Outer Banks have Size Limits on Crabs?

Yes it does!

Minimum Crab Size – 5″
MAximum Crab Size – 6 3/4″

There is also a legal limit is 50 Outer Banks Crabs per day.

Gone Crabbin!