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Large lake crabs move into Pontchartrain

By Bruce McDonald -   Mar 22, 2012

Corey McDonald shows off a blue crab caught in the Parish Canal using drop nets and catfish heads.
Corey McDonald shows off a blue crab caught in the Parish Canal using drop nets and catfish heads.

It has been three years since the Parish Canal has been open to public boating because construction on the retaining wall along the western end of Jefferson Parish forced its closure.

But it was nice to be back since the area is a hotbed of crab activity.

To access the canal, launch at the end of Williams Boulevard next to the Treasure Chest Casino on Lake Pontchartrain. There is a beautiful boat launch with plenty of parking.

Saturday afternoon my brother, Randy McDonald, and nephew, Corey McDonald, decided to make the 3-mile boat ride with me on a very windy day on Lake Ponchartrain. The lake temperature is around 74 degrees and crabs move into the lake when the temperature reaches 70 degrees. Lake Pontchartrain can be a dangerous place to be if boating in rough water, but the winds were in our favor - blowing out of the south at 15 to 20 miles per hour.

Randy and Corey were busy baiting the drop nets with catfish heads caught on a previous fishing trip during the week. We entered the Parish Canal and another boat was crabbing with drop nets. Moving up the canal about a half mile, we started setting out the drop nets around 3 p.m. Immediately after setting 36 drop nets, we went to the beginning to check the nets.

We were catching one to two big blue claw crabs in each drop net on the first run. On the second run, they played out fast, so we moved a few nets further up the canal. Each time we were in a new location, we caught good crabs.

After making five runs, our blue container had 10 dozen big blue crabs by 5 p.m.

Our focus turned to getting back to the boat launch and heading home. We talked about how good the crabbing was and how we couldnít wait to eat hot boiled crabs.

"This was the best crabbing trip I have ever made," Randy said. "I canít get over how big they were. They will taste good tonight."

Fishing license reminder

Lake Pontchartrain is a saltwater area. To crab with drop nets a fisherman must have in possession a basic fishing license and a saltwater license. If crabbing on management areas, the limit is 12 dozen crabs. No person shall possess a female crab that is in the berry stage (eggs under the tail) and the crab must be returned immediately to the water. Wear a personal flotation device and file a float plan.

Boiling crabs

•Fill boiling pot halfway with water

•Add a box of salt and 1/3 of a 16-ounce jar of cayenne pepper

•Add potatoes, sausage, sweet potatoes and anything you like to boil.

•Bring to a boil and then add the crabs.

•Bring the water back to a boil and time nine minutes. After nine minutes, shut the fire off and cool the pot by adding ice or water to stop the boiling.

•Let set for 30 more minutes and then serve the crabs. Remember to keep the crabs upside down, or belly up. This holds the seasoned water in the shells until they are ready to eat.

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