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Crabbing at Assateague Island

Go crabbing at Assateague
Grab a net and go crabbing at Assateague

NPS Photo

Who doesn’t love to eat a blue crab? After all, the literal translation of this Latin name (Callinectes sapidus) is the beautiful (calli) swimmer (nectes) that is savory (sapidus). Crabbing is a great activity for the entire family regardless of age. You will need a hand line or string with a weight attached, bait such as chicken necks and a net with a long handle. If you plan to keep the crabs you will also need to bring a ruler to measure crab size and a cooler with ice. Don’t forget crabs can pinch! Pinching is their best defense!

To catch a crab, lower your baited hand line into the water until it rests on the bottom. When you feel a tug, or notice the line has become taunt, slowly and steadily begin to pull your line back in. Just before the crab breaks the surface of the water, have a friend use the net to scoop the crab out of the water. State seasons, limits and regulations apply.

In the Maryland district, the best place to crab is from Old Ferry Landing. In the Virginia district, crabbing is best on the docks right before the entrance to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Stop in at the Assateague Island Visitor Center or Ranger Contact Station in Maryland, or the Toms Cove Visitor Center in Virginia for more information.
Details
Crabbing is a great activity for the entire family regardless of age. You will need a hand line or string with a weight attached, bait such as chicken necks and a net with a long handle. If you plan to keep the crabs you will also need to bring a ruler to measure crab size and a cooler with ice.
Crabbing is open to all ages, but minors should be with an adult parent or guardian.
Pets are permitted only in specific areas of the Maryland portion of the National Seashore. Please manage your pets. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times! Please pick up after your pet. The hot sand and sun can be harder on your pet than it is on you. Unattended and unrestrained animals can disturb and harm island wildlife and other park visitors.

Pets are prohibited in the following areas to protect wildlife, habitat and visitors:
• The entire Virginia portion of Assateague Island 
• All backcountry campsites
• Nature trails• Lifeguard-protected beach
• Portions of Assateague State Park
• North of the State Park to the Ocean City inlet
All park entry fees apply.
Crabbing areas are available in both districts of the island. 
In the Maryland district, crabbing is best at Old Ferry Landing. 
In the Virginia district, crabbing is best just before the entrance to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, on either side of the bridge leading to Assateague. 
The public crab season varies by state, and by year-to-year. Inquire about public crabbing seasons and regulations at a visitor center or Ranger Station.
Accessibility Information
At Old Ferry Landing in the Maryland District there is a ground level pier available next to disability parking areas. Piers are made of wood planks. There is also an elevated pier accessible by a wooden ramp adjacent to the parking lot.

In the Virginia District there is no parking available at the crabbing piers. The closest parking area is at the Wildlife Loop trail parking lot. It is about a 1/4 mile walk along a paved trail that leads over the bridge and down to the piers. The piers are made of wooden planks and are wide enough for a wheelchair. 

Last updated: April 27, 2021