Crabbing in Maryland and especially in Annapolis isn’t a hobby, it’s a way of life. #DidYouKnow between April and December is the best time of year to catch crab in Maryland?
What Is A Trotline?
A trotline is a heavy fishing line with hooks/bait that is typically towed by a boat and set in the water with weights to hold it below water. It’s important to scope the area of swimmers, other boaters or other trotlines. In the state of Maryland it’s illegal to lay a trotline within 100 feet of another trotline. In this blog we will discuss how to lay a trot line.
What You’ll Need:
- Braided Nylon (#4-#5) or Tarred Line
- Chicken Necks
- Two 3-4 foot Sections of Chain
- Two 50 ft Sections of larger Rope
- Two Anchors that will Drag
- Two Brass Snap Swivels
- Cooler or Large Bucket
- Heavy Working Gloves
- Wire Crab Net
- Bushel Basket
- PVC Roller
Rig two ends together:
- One side of the 50ft section is tied to the anchor
- Measure 25ft to find the middle of the line, then thread your line through
the large float twice to keep it at the middle
- The other end of the line gets tied to the chain section
- Use basket or 5 gal. bucket to store & separate the two, if possible
Bait Your Line
- The first step is to get your bait. Approximately 10lb of chicken necks
(2-4 inch pieces) for a 1000ft line.
- Either thaw it overnight or fill 5 gal bucket w/water an put in necks
- Tie a brass snap swivel to the end of your main line.
- Using a sliding loop know, rig your chicken necks every 5ft-7ft along the
- As you tie the necks, the rigged part of the line should be put in the
cooler. As the line starts to build up, you can gently press the rigged line
down to pack in in the cooler to keep it from tangling.
- Using any type of spool or coil method will tangle the line. Let it go
naturally into the cooler.
- At the end of the line, tie the last brass swivel to the end.
- Itʼs much easier to do the night before you crab. You can put a bag of
ice on top of the line and close the cooler. Youʼll be ready to go in the
morning without your chicken necks rotting.
Setting/Laying Your Line:
- Any river or creek off of the bay has potential for great crabbing.
- Key is to find long stretches (as long as your line runs) in the 4-8 ft
- Start at a slow speed and let your anchor down, followed by line, float
and chain in a straight line with some tension. When you get to the
end of the chain, snap the brass swivel attached to your main line
- The key to laying your main line is to keep tension on the line as you
lay it, and to be driving on a straight line the whole time.
- If you go off track and leave a bow in the line while you are laying it,
you will end up with trouble. Itʼs worth taking the time to re-lay it.
- At the end of the rigged line, snap the brass swivel to the last chain
and lay the last anchor rig down with some tension.
- If you need to tighten your line, you can hold an anchor at one end and
drive till it pulls to our liking.
- Starting at one end of the line, pull the float over your PVC roller while
running at reasonable speed. The rest of the line should roll over along
with the chain.
- Once you are past the chain you can slow down and begin crabbing!
- The line should come up at a 30-45 degree angle. As the line necks
come up, you can dip the crabs and put them in the bushel baskets.
- If the line dips while running, you can assume thereʼs a crab on
- When you get to the end of the line, dump it off the PVC roller. Now
you can check your crabs and discard the “throw-backs”
- Navigate back to where you started and repeat
Trotline Video Tutorial
Video Source: Anglers Sport Center LTD.
Maryland Blue Crab Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) – Re: Trotlines