Over the next two weeks the bottom fishing in Vineyard Sound and Buzzard's Bay should really start to heat up.
Big tautog and scup will soon be here in good numbers, and I am chomping at the bit to target tog and scup from boat, kayak and shore.
One of the best baits for springtime tautog is the green crab. Green crabs are an invasive European species, which have taken up residence in many of Cape Cod's estuaries and marshes.
You don't need to purchase a permit to harvest green crabs, however state law requires individuals to hold a free letter of authorization from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Please contact Kerry Allard to receive a letter of authorization at 617-626-1633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this post, I will bring you with me on a brand new fishing adventure into one of Cape Cod's many scenic marshes. However, this time we'll swap the fishing rod for a crab pot.
Cape Cod's Spectacular Marshes
The marshes and estuaries of Cape Cod are a beautiful environment to visit. This past weekend we were gifted with some extraordinary sunny and warm weather, which was perfect for a hike into the marsh.
I always enjoy the peaceful feeling I get whenever I am out in the marsh. The singing of the sea birds, the wind through the reeds, and the rush of water against the marsh bank makes for a wonderful nature experience.
Even if I didn't catch a single green crab, I knew this trip would still be a success. How could it not be a success, when I was surrounded by picturesque dune-scapes and fresh salty air?
Cape Cod's marshes are home to thousands (dare I say millions) of green crabs. However they are also home to numerous species of terns, herons, fish, land mammals and more.
Activities like trapping my own bait make me feel like I am reliving "old Cape Cod". No doubt people have been coming into these marshes for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years in search of crabs, shellfish and other wildlife.
Baiting The Pot
Aside from enjoying nature and the beautiful scenery of the marsh, my goal during this trip was to test my new green crab pots to see if I could be successful at catching my own bait for bottom fishing.
The pot is specially designed with a hole at the top. Green crabs are climbers (not swimmers) so when they approach the pot, the crabs will climb up the side and fall through the hole.
I also added a stone weight to the bottom of the pot, which I secured in place with zip ties. For bait, I used frozen mackerel that was probably 6 months old. I cut the mackerel into chunks and used a suet cage to contain the bait.
Green Crabs Galore!
I set the pots at dead low tide and allowed them to fish for about 3 hours. I am no expert at catching crabs, so I was very curious to see what would happen.
I also added my GoPro camera to the pot to capture the action. Please click play below to watch the footage!
After reviewing the video footage, I learned that it takes time for the larger crabs to climb up the pot and fall in, while the smaller crabs just walk right through the caging.
I also feel that the suet cage (pictured above) was critical to my crabbing success. Without the cage, I believe the bait would have been shredded to bits by the crabs, decreasing the effectiveness of the pot.
In total I caught about two gallons of crabs in under 3 hours. I could not of been happier as I hiked out of the marsh. Fishing success is always a gratifying feeling for me, even if I am just fishing for crabs.
Now all I need to do is find some big tautog and scup to feed these crabs to. Catching those fish on bait I caught on my own will surely make the fishing experience more gratifying.
Best of luck if you head out fishing this week. If you have any questions, then please don't hesitate to reach out.