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Crabbing on West Mersea Floating Pontoon

Crabbing Bucket Crabbing in Mersea has been the pastime of youngsters in the town for generations. You can crab from the pontoon on Coast Road, from the end of the ramp to the hammerhead section. Please see the guidance note opposite. 

The crab you are most like to catch is the Common Shore Crab. They feed on worms, molluscs, small gastropods, small crabs, algae, carrion and almost anything else they can catch!  It can grow up to 8cm across.

Tips for crabbing

Find a suitable spot on the pontoon. Be aware of others around you so you don't get in each others way and you can all share in the enjoyment. Depending on the tides, one side of the pontoon will be better than the other. The pontoon is used for a variety of purposes so be prepared to move if a boat comes up to moor or if fishermen arrive to drop off their catches.
Just tie on the bait or use one of those little bags that come with washing powder tablets. Crabs can't resist bait such as bacon, chicken, fish and the like. You don't need the good bits - use the bits that you throw away, they're not that fussy when it comes to raw meat.
Drop your line in the water and wait, crabs need a little coaxing. Be patient and avoid checking the crabbing line every 60 seconds. Leave the line for 5 minutes, which should give time for the crabs to come out, sniff around and then decide on whether they fancy a nibble or not. If you wrap a little line loosely around your finger you will feel the crabs pulling.
Raise your line, it should feel a little heavier, and have a good look. Hanging on to your now half eaten bait, there should be a happy crab chomping away. Wait a little while until it has a firm hold and then bring the line up steadily and smoothly. Not so fast that the crab senses you pulling and lets go, and not so slowly that it's eaten up the bait and moved on to its next tasty morsel!.
You will land more crabs if you also have a children's fishing net so that you can place it under the crab just before lifting it from the water especially if they are few and far between. On the other hand half the fun is seeing whether you can bring up your line before the crab drops off!
The pincers can give a nasty nip and they don't like to let go. So, hold the crab gently by the shell on each side just behind the pincers with your finger and thumb. Their pincers can't reach around enough and you don't hurt the more delicate parts of the crab.
If you want to keep your crabs in a bucket for a little while to look at, make sure you prepare beforehand by filling your bucket with sea water, a few stones and some seaweed so that they have a place to hide as they are not comfortable with sunlight. Only put a few crabs in at a time. They don't like crowds and can become quite tetchy. Make sure you place the bucket in the shade and don't keep them in the bucket too long especially if it is a warm sunny day!

After you've watched them for a short while gently and carefully place them back into the water and let them go back home.