Crabbing remains a family favourite pastime on the beaches in Cornwall. It’s cheap, fun and a great way for children to learn about the animals that live on the sea shore.
The Beach Office, located at the end of Summerleaze carpark in Bude, has everything you might need for a day crabbing and observing sea creatures.
After purchasing your crabbing lines and buckets you need to fill them with bait. Bacon seems to be incredibly popular with crabs, but lots of food items will do. Ham, anything fishy or fatty will work.
Drop your crabbing line into the water and wait! This will require some patience as the crabs will require some time to smell the bait and be attracted to it. You should feel additional weight on the line, indicating that there is a crab at the end of it. Pull the line out and check if you have caught any monsters! All of the crabbing lines sold at the Beach Office use safe netted bait bags rather than hooks so there is no risk to the crab or crabber. We do advise however that if the crab needs handling that an adult does it. This is to avoid stressing the creatures and also avoiding any potential nasty nips.
To pick a crab up (again, only if you really need to) hold it firmly by the sides of the carapace (main shell). That way, your fingers will be well out of the way of the crabs pincers and everyone will remain happier.
If you want to observe the crabs, put them in a bucket with plenty of water in. Avoid putting too many in at once or leaving them in the sun and return them to the water fairly quickly. This is a great time to have a good look at the animals though. Look for the walking legs, swimming legs, eye stalks and pincers.
The crabs you will find are NOT EDIBLE so please do not try. Put them back where you found them and treat them with the care and respect they deserve.
At the end of the canal on Summerleaze Beach there is a river that runs down to the sea with a concrete footbridge over it. This little stretch of water is an ideal habitat for crabs and your lines should be pulling them up in no time.
There are countless rockpools between Summerleaze and Crooklets beaches, but care must be taken as the rocks are often extremely slippery. The tide also cuts off this area of beach, known as ‘Middle Beach’, so it is only accessible at low tide.
At the end of the Breakwater on Summerleaze beach (accessible from the path to the north of the canal, over the bridge) there is a semi-natural swimming pool called ‘Tommy’s Pit’. Exposed at low tide, this can be a great place to sit on the side and dangle crab lines into. You will sometimes encounter bathers in the pool so use discretion whether you have enough space to crab here.
As previously mentioned, almost all of the pools with crabs in are only exposed at low tide. Tide times can be accessed online (click here). There are also RNLI signs with the tide times at the entrances to all lifeguarded beaches. If you are unsure then always check with the lifeguards. They will be happy to give advice on the tide and sea conditions that day.
…Exploring rockpools is like discovering a hidden world that children (and adults) might otherwise overlook. There’s are a wide variety of species, with complex relationships all living in this secret habitat. They can be a fantastic way to learn about marine organisms that would otherwise be very difficult to see and learn about.
Read more about rockpooling in Bude…