Slow crabbing season begins to show signs of improvement

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jun 26, 2013 - 01:57 PM

Photo: Mathews waterman Chris Pritchett offloads bushels of crabs from his boat to a private dock in Mathews on Tuesday morning. His dog Beau keeps him company. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Mathews waterman Chris Pritchett offloads bushels of crabs from his boat to a private dock in Mathews on Tuesday morning. His dog Beau keeps him company. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Crabbing has been slow this season, but Chris Pritchett of North said it picked up some over the past week or so. He caught 16 bushels of crabs on Tuesday, up from only seven or eight bushels daily in weeks past. He said he’s catching more females and cushion crabs now.

Rain, cold, and last year’s storms all might be having an effect on the crab population, said Pritchett, adding that "it’s hard to put your finger on one thing."

"It hasn’t got hot yet," he said, "but it’s getting ready to get that way. Crabs like it hot; you always seem to catch more when it’s hot."

Although there don’t seem to be many crabs, there’s still a living to be made, since the market is up. Pritchett said that there still aren’t a lot of crabs in other places, so buyers are paying good prices. "As long as the market is high, that’s the main thing," he said.

While the bushel limit for crabs used to be 51 bushels a day for everyone, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission tied bushel limits to crab pot licenses this year, so Pritchett’s limit is 45 bushels a day until the end of the year. Of course, there has to be a big upswing in crabs before he’ll even get close to that.