Martin Roberts

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With a summer of caravan holidays ahead, if you've not tried crabbing, read Martin Roberts' column from our January 2014 issue on why it's top touring fun

I want to talk about crabbing – please bear with me before you click away, onto another page on the Practical Caravan website!

It occurred to me recently that there are a lot of similarities between caravanning and crabbing. Both are simple pleasures that provide hours of enjoyment at little cost. Both hark back to times when life was less complicated and stressful. Both get you to the most beautiful areas of the UK. Both are loved by children and adults, and both result in the most awful smell if you leave bits of leftover meat or fish in places you shouldn’t!

My six-year old, Scott, is a crabbing expert and I have his approval to share with you one key element of his success: his secret bait. More later. In the meantime, a crabbing hot-spots guide to the UK was missing from the shelves of my local bookstore. Therefore, with your help I propose to produce one.

Our summer of touring was largely confined to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. Ipso facto, my guide is geographically challenged. Your hot-spots in and particularly outside those counties would be most welcome, as would your agreement (in principle) to buy the book when published. This would also help complete the troublesome process of actually getting it published!

In order to level the playing field and ensure the accuracy of my guide, I need to regulate the crabbing process. Therefore, the rules for your participation in the survey are as follows.

In terms of equipment, you need a standard crabbing device of the sort available for around £1.25 from any seaside newsagent or novelty shop. This should have a small ‘net’ for the insertion of bait. The use of drift nets, lobster pots, sonic stun devices and any kind of male/female crab attraction hormones is strictly forbidden.

The allotted timeframe for this activity is around 45 minutes, or until the occurrence of any of the following: boredom (unlikely), hypothermia (likely), sabotage (yes, it happens), bucket overflow (you hope) or a rapidly incoming tide (you don’t).

Now, what bait should you use? Are you in the ‘bacon’ camp or the ‘old bits of fish’ school? Either way, I can reveal (with the approval of my son) that you are in the wrong crowd. If you truly want to notch up colossal crabbing numbers, you need to embrace ... sausages. A sure-fire winner every time!

And where should you go crabbing? The seaside is a good starting point. Jetties and harbour walls are favourites. But some of our biggest hauls have been in estuaries. Check tide tables, though. Mudflats are not as abundant in crab life as you’d think. Strong tidal movements also make it a devil of a job to get the bait to sink.

With these rules in mind, write in or email us with your crabbing locations and results. Any anecdotes would also be appreciated.

To get you going, Scott’s top five crabbing locations and results from our summer are:

  • Dittisham – where we caught 112
  • Stoke Gabriel – where we caught 84 crabs
  • Looe – we caught 39 crabs here
  • Swanage – we caught 15 crabs
  • Lyme Regis – we caught just six here

What are your top spots and how successful have you been? Happy crabbing – and happy caravanning!

Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter
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