Early this morning I walked across the highway from our gas station/marina to a dock on a small creek where pickup trucks were unloading and boats were moving. I met a husband and wife crabbing crew setting up their boat for the day. Both were wearing white rubber overalls and the well-organized boat was equipped with heavy rubber gloves, bushel baskets and other crabbing gear.
He was a man of few words, but told me that this early in the season they were “baretrappin’ for jimmies”. I learned that this means they had no bait in their traps, but that male crabs (jimmies) would crawl into the traps as hiding places. Crabbers catch and give a home to these jimmies and later go “jimmy potting”, using the males as bait for females, called “sallies” or “sooks” or “peelers.”
They told me that in this early part of the crabbing season, they would only catch about 500 crabs a day, but later in the season they hoped to catch about 1500 a day. He told me he used to work harder at it, but that at age 58 his joints were acting up and he couldn’t work as hard as he used to. She smiled and nodded her agreement.
North Carolina blue crabs are the state’s most valuable seafood, caught one at a time by hard working folks like these.