Funny thing hapenned while crabbing

Dungenous crab season opened for recreational anglers last Saturday. I paddled out under the Golden Gate (no taking dungenous inside the Golden Gate) yesterday and dropped a cage. Standard folding trap with a plastic bait box inside (looks like a sleeve). Chicken skin and fat (plus some pork fat) as bait.

Paddled out again today and pulled the trap up - and it was empty. Very empty. This is how empty:

I know that there are crabs in the area - saw others pulling up nice full pots not far away. But I have been known to drop pots in bad locations (I guess rocky areas, and not sandy bottomed areas dungenous are know for). And this was a new spot for me, so a pot empty of crabs wouldn’t surprise me too much.

But where did the bait box go? It was tied on. And even if the knots came untied, I don’t think it could get out any of the openings of the pot without the side of the cage being opened.

I am guessing someone else came along while the pot was out and emptied it of any catch plus the bait box.

I’m guessing your guess is correct …
… don’t crab myself , but know how it’s done and know what cage trap is . Don’t think it possible for anything to get out once it’s inside .

I know a guy who dives around here (Chesapeake) for crabs … checks cage traps .

Over Nighters

– Last Updated: Nov-21-12 8:22 PM EST –

Its the shameful side of sport crabbing, but there’s no doubt that poachers often go out and randomly check other folks unattended gear.

My personal solution is to only use rings that are only soaked while I’m on the water. Especially early season before commercial starts its super easy to catch your limit in an hour or two with just a few pulls.

We are heading out tomorrow with a large crew of The Lost Coast Kayak Angler’s. With easy seas and light winds forecast I’m sure it won’t take long to limit out making it an easy task to get home for the holiday meal.

I put out traps for blues and stonys
down here on the Texas coast. Different design, but same bait. Could be that a human poacher took your crabs, but I wouldn’t expect him to mess with the bait. I am having trouble picturing the bait setup. Would it just fall out if the trap was opened?

I’ll sometimes come to find an empty trap with no bait, but in my case I believe it is usually pinfish or other baitstealers.

bait cageq
Bait cage was made of plastic chicken wire that folded over and made a pocket. It was tied on to the trap with reasonably strong string. It could come out of the cage when it is opened at an end, but wouldn’t fit out the entrance doors for crabs.

Yup, sounds like you were poached
I am sure it has happened to me many times, though my traps look like this:

So the bait stays put. I pretty much assume that there are going to be people out there who will steal from others’ traps. Unfortunately here in Texas so many people leave their traps so long unattended, and people know that, that it encourages poaching. Frankly, with unattended traps poachers can provide a service, because a lot of times crabs and even game fish languish and die in them because they are unattended so long. I volunteer every February with TPWD, during a 10 day closure period where all traps must be out of the water, and any traps found can be kept. I don’t usually keep the ones I find, as I have enough and mine are in much better shape as I only leave mine in the water for 1 to 2 nights at a time. These abandoned traps tend to be corroding and covered with barnacles and oyster shells.