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From the Victorian era to the present day, crabbing has been a popular pastime for children of all ages and indeed some adults!

Over the last 20 years a Monster Crab competition has been organised on the Pier by The Herne Bay Angling Association usually in August, entry is free and the bait is supplied - see below for the 2016 winners.

But you don’t have to wait until then to try crabbing come at any time when the Pier is Open and the tide is in.

How do you fish for crabs?

To fish for crabs all you have to do is lower a baited string and weight to the sea bed and after a short while pull in and with any luck a crab will be clinging on to the bait.

Crabbing lines

To get you started for crabbing you require a ‘crab line’ that can be purchased from the White House Shop at the Pier entrance. They usually come supplied with line holder, line, weight and something for your bait to be attached to.

If you wish to make your own line then all is required is enough line, say 15 metres to reach from the pier railings to the seabed, a weight to ensure your bait sits on the seabed; a stone, lead fishing weight or something heavy is ideal. The weight should then be fixed to the bottom of your line along with a small length of string (approx. 20 centimetres’) to attach your bait.

Baiting your crab line

Crabs will eat almost anything that has an attractive scent smell – the best baits being fish, squid or bacon. Pre-packed bait can be purchased from the White House Shop or fish and squid bait can be purchased from the local tackle shop.

Once you have your bait you need to ‘bait up’ your crab line ready for fishing. Take a small piece of bait and tie it to the end of the small length of string so it hangs below the weight. Another popular method is to use a small netted bag which works very well with soft fish baits that are difficult to tie on with string.

 It is not recommended to use hooks as these are very sharp and can cause serious injury.

Time to start crab catching!

Gently lower your baited string down the side of the pier until your line goes slack which means your weight is sitting on the seabed. To ensure that you do not lose your line it is best to tie the other end of the string to the pier railings.

Leave your line in the water for approximately five minutes and then gently pull your line out of the water. With any luck you will see crabs clinging to your bait as you retrieve your line up the side of the pier. Hopefully some of the crabs will still be clinging to your bait as you bring them over the pier railing on to the decking.

Handling you crabs

Crabs will attempt to nip you so it is important that you pick them up correctly using your thumb and forefinger at the back of their shell. If a crab does pinch you shake your hand quickly and it will (usually) let go!

Looking after your crabs

Like any living creature it is essential that you respect and take great care of your caught crabs. Ideally, it is preferable to return them to their habitat as soon as possible by releasing them over the side of the railings in to the sea.

However, if you wish to keep your crabs whilst fishing it is essential that you keep them in a bucket of sea water.  On hot and sunny days ensure the water is kept in the shade and if possible collect some seaweed from the foreshore or put a cloth over you bucket for extra shade with some stones in the bottom to make them feel at home!

Always release your crabs when its’ time to go home.

Happy crabbing!!!

The Pier Trust would like to thank Barry Mount the Secretary of The Herne Bay Angling Association for providing us with this excellent advice for crabbing on the Pier.

Crab Report – 23 August 2016

Tia Earnshaw – Monster Crab winner

On Sunday in sunny but breezy conditions, The Herne Bay Angling Association held their annual Monster Crab Competition on the Pier. Over six hundred junior competitors fished in the hope of catching the largest crab which was won by eight year old Tia Earnshaw with a crab weighing 0.20lbs caught on a cocktail of bacon and crab stick!

All competitors caught crabs, but for the first time in five years Alisha Keeley, aged eight caught one of the ten marked crabs released prior to the competition to receive a special prize.

The weigh in took place at the clubs headquarters where the children were given drinks and snacks whilst the crabs were being weighed. All crabs were released unharmed after the weigh-in.

The eventual winners in each age category were awarded their prizes from the club chairman, Michael Chalk.


Monster Crab Champion – Tia Earnshaw – 0.20lbs

Up to six years in age:

1. N. Brewer – 0.145lbs

2. S. Ellan – 0.125lbs

3. L. Mullholland – 0.115lbs

Seven to ten years

1. J. Philps – 0.1951lbs

2. C. Webber – 0.195lbs

3. L. Mount – 0.16lbs

Eleven to sixteen years

1. E. Watkeye – 0.135lbs

2. C. Fox – 0.13lbs

3. O. Stephens – 0.125lbs

Marked Crab – Alisha Keeley


1. Champion crabber – Tia Earnshaw

2. Marked crab catcher – Alisha Keeley

Report by Barry Mount