Pinfish, Bait & Crab Traps = food & fun

It began with kayaks…………graduated to a boat……………..and now all this extra stuff!  I couldn’t not have guessed in 2001 that going with Eric to Haulover Canal, while borrowing a friend’s kayak would have turned into this.  There are still people at work that upon meeting me can’t believe this part of my life, especially when I show them the epic fish I caught our last day at SGI.  Okay, maybe ‘epic’ is a bit of a stretch, but it was big.  Yes, this is a teaser for a post to come (3rd wave of SGI fishing).  But before that gets posted, the items in the title have become a common and daily occurrance on these SGI trips.


A key aspect of fishing is the bait – no surprise there.  When I first started fishing, it was all about hard baits with treble hooks, then we moved up to soft plastics.  Lately, we seem to be primarily using live bait when we can and that takes extra work – hence pinfish traps.


They don’t come with those ‘bars’.  That is an adaptation that Eric added – bars of rebar to stabilize the traps.  One of the first times we used the traps, there was a storm.  The next morning we had a (very) difficult time locating the traps since the waves rolled them from our ‘X’ on the Garmin screen.  One of our godsons had eagle eyes and found the small, brown float we first used, but not any longer.  Notice above, that first float has turned into a larger, white float – much easier to see.

If you’re lucky, this is what you find inside the traps – a pinfish.


It is a process.  After you select your trap, the next step it to find a location to place it.  Generally you look for thick grass, with a slight current 4-12 feet in depth.  Areas near bridge pilings, structures or boat docks are choice.  You can see our buoy along the right side of the photo (it’s that white dot!).


Next step is baiting.  Number 1 choice is raw fish, 2-5 lbs of dead bait.  Fish carcasses are great or if bait is bought, menhaden is a good bet since it is cheap and smelly.  Fish have a strong sense of smell, so the smellier the better – who knew?

Now, you’re ready to deploy your trap.  Hang on, this is exciting.

Put the long part in the direction of the current flow, making it easy for the bait to swim inside.  Don’t (!) check the trap every few hours – 12 to 24 is preferred.  When enough time has elapsed, check your trap.  Eric used a gaff to grab the buoy and trap while our friend Dennis checked out what was caught.



Pretty much we checked the traps in the morning as we were heading out, gathering the pinfish into the livewell.  We baited the traps at the end of the day with our fish carcasses – provided we caught something.  Next up, another bait.

A bait we occasionally use is shrimp.  These we don’t trap, but drive down to the local bait store and pick up (several) dozens.  We put them into another livewell and use them throughout the morning, until we run out.  😦  Oops, sometimes we don’t buy enough.


Speaking of shrimp………………..Gulp Baits are very popular and we used them throughout the week.  Brown (new penny), natural and nuclear chicken being the color of choice.  ‘What has brown done for you?”  is a catchy slogan on TV and yes, we used it thoughout the week.  Brown seemed to be a favorite color our caught fish enjoyed.


Of course, now this made my curious, what are Gulp Baits?  While there is waaaaay too much info on the internet, I boiled it down to a few factoids.

  • Company started in 1945 by Berkley Bedell, who had been making flies since 1937, when he was 16 years old in Iowa.
  • The company’s first breakthrough was the innovative Trilene in 1959.
  • He started making soft plastic baits in the 1980s with his first ‘scented’ bait product in 1985.  Actually the soft baits are not truly plastic, but a water-based resin, mostly biodegradable.
  • While the ‘scent’ is a trade secret, the company’s scientists analyzed the chemical make of what fish like to munch and integrated that into the resin formula.

That’s a pretty simple explanation for a highly technical process.  One key thing their website mentions is their continued commitment to research and development.

The last thing mentioned in my title……..Crab traps.  We brought two and the rental has one at the dock.  Our target crab is the Blue crab – considered by many to be the sweetest and best tasting of all.


Crab traps are a bit different than our pinfish traps – square versus round is the obvious difference.  Both require being baited for the targeted species.  A crab trap has the bait (fish carcasses) placed in the center.  Crabs walk around the cage, searching for ways to get to the bait, find the ‘secret’ entranceway and don’t (usually) get out.


The red wire (above photo) seen in the middle is where you stick the bait (fish carcasses).  You want crabs  to get inside the trap to reach the bait and not be able to snack on it from the outside or…………… crabs!  This guy took the bait.


After you’ve massed enough for a crab boil, you assemble the essential items.  Eric is a fan of Zatarain’s, but there are others.

img_3713And yes, you have to have more ‘stuff’ such as this cooker.  I will say that cooking the crabs outside is an excellent decision.  When cooking in the kitchen, the spices get into the air and can get caught in your throat.  Now this means you have to ensure your propane tank is full…………..another oops, sorry guys, now the world knows.

After the water is boiling the crabs go into the pot.  If you don’t want to watch the video, skip past it – sorry Karen.

After a certain amount of time, they are dumped out and ready for the ‘picking of the meat’.



This is one (possible) end result – very tasty!


Next up, cooking and smoking our catches.













5 thoughts on “Pinfish, Bait & Crab Traps = food & fun

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    Demir Cannon


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