Cage Traps (Pots)
Cage traps – often simply called ‘pots’ – are fully enclosed traps with one-way doors that allow crabs to climb in but not back out. They’re probably the most effective type of crab trap – but requ Because crabs can’t escape once they’ve entered the trap, you can leave a pot to soak in the ocean for hours at a time. Keep in mind that once the bait is gone, no more crabs will enter the trap. Many crabbers will drop their pots off in the morning, and then pull them up later in the evening.
There are a variety of pot designs – from small, collapsible wire traps used by recreational crabbers all the way to the 100-pound steel pots used by commercial crabbing boats.
When picking a cage trap look for one with multiple raised doors and ramps leading up to the doors. The more doors, the more crab will find their way into your trap. Raised doors with ramps mean that crab will be able to find their way into the trap – even if it’s dropped on an uneven seafloor.
Keep in mind that one-way doors aren’t foolproof. Crabs can sometimes get stuck in a door – jamming it open and allowing other crabs to escape. Also, if you don’t bait the trap properly, crabs will be able to crawl on the outside of the trap and steal your bait!
Other features to look for are one or more escape hatches for smaller crabs, and a rot-cord system to disable the trap if it gets lost. These are required by law in many areas, so make sure to check your local laws and regulations before heading out.
Slip Ring Traps
Slip ring traps are constructed from two identical sized metal rings spaced 6 to 10 inches apart by the frame. When deployed, one ring rests on the sea floor, while the other ring is directly above it. Crabs are able to walk directly in and out of the trap from all directions to feed on the bait.
A third ring with netting attached to it rests on the sea floor. This is where the harness attaches to the trap. When pulled, this cylinder of netting pulls upwards and completely encloses any crab still inside the trap.
Slip rings work similar to traditional ring traps – with one major difference – they have an enclosed top. This means crab can’t escape the trap as you pull it through the water.
These traps are heavier and bulkier than ring traps but are better at keeping crab from climbing out. They also need to be checked often, as crab can climb in and out at any time.