Paddle crabs, the surfcaster’s enemy?

Very big crabs out there at the moment.

I’ve been trying to catch a Snapper, or at least something other than a Kahawai around the local Napier beaches this month. Others have done it, so I’ve heard through the grapevine. In fact I’ve seen photographic evidence that Snapper do exist (or perhaps that should be past-tense did exist) in our local waters.

The problem at present is getting a bait to stay in the water for more than 2 or 3 minutes. There appears to be an absolute plague of paddle crabs around at the moment, and with nothing to eat them, they have free reign to strip your superbly prepared pilchard or skipjack baits before any fish can find them.

A recent southerly storm left the beaches around here littered with smashed up paddle crab shells. Seeing this I thought maybe it might make a dent in the population of these underwater rats. Not so. With no Snapper or Lemon Shark to eat the crabs, they have thrived on the carcases of their mates and there are some really big specimens out there!

When the crabs are about in these numbers there’s pretty much nothing you can do to stop them destroying your baits. Last night my floated baits were being decimated in 2-3 minutes. Re-bait one rod, cast it out, retrieve rod number two, re-bait that, cast it out. Back to rod number one, bait gone.

Using crab for bait to catch lemon sharks and snapper only works if those fish are about. You can be sure when the crabs are this active, there are no predators about. If the crabs are rampant and suddenly stop taking your baits, thats usually a sign that predators have turned up. And thats when you toss out a hook baited with crab.

Last night I caught several large paddle crabs, one of them was caught on paddle crab bait!

More Paddle Crab Info:
http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/publications/-best-fish-guide-/paddle-crabs
http://seafoodindustry.co.nz/n1242,245.html

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