Crab legs and chicken necks

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



We’re on the downhill slide.

The miserable month of February is about to run its course.

Tuesday marks the first day of March.

A reader wanted to know when is the best time to begin fishing for crappie. He had in mind Grayson Lake.

The last week of March is best for finding them schooling up around underwater brush piles. Kentucky bass (spotted) can also often be found feeding right in among the crappie.

Today I want to talk about catching a species of the underwater world that most readers – if any – have never fished for.

My first experience with crab fishing came quite a few years ago when I, as a naval reservist, was undergoing two weeks training with the regular U.S. Navy at a ship repair station in New Port, Rhode Island.

The regular navy guy who took me crab fishing first drove two stakes into the bottom about 10 feet apart. He tied a line between the stakes, with a swag in the middle. He tied five or six lines, each about three feet long, at intervals along the main line.

At the end of each of these lines he tied a piece of chicken. There were no hooks involved.

He dropped these bait lines into the water, which was about three feet deep.

An hour later when he raised the line there were three crabs holding onto the bait with one claw. They refused to release their hold on their dinner, not until he held them over a bucket and shook them vigorously.


There was one other crab fishing trip for me (I know you’re waiting with bated breath, hardly able to contain your excitement).

I enjoy crab legs whenever I get the opportunity to partake, which is most usually at Red Lobster in Huntington. Now I was going to learn more about how to catch my own.

It was near the end of June 2013. My grandson-in-law, Brad Huffman, husband of my granddaughter, Samantha Piatt Cole Huffman, who at the time lived in Charleston, just 15 minutes from our one-week vacation condo on Folly Beach, took me and my son-in-law, Dwight Cole, crab fishing.

Our first stop was at Piggly Wiggly to buy chicken necks.

On a wooden dock built out over a salt-water canal flowing through the marshes of the Low Country, Brad tied chicken necks in the bottom of two wire hoops. He dropped them to the bottom and tied them off to the rail.

You have no knowledge of when you’re getting a bite. You simply raise the hoops from time to tome to see if any hungry and unsuspecting crabs have entered the hoops and latched their wicked claws into a chicken neck. If so, you use needle-nose pliers to fish them out and drop them into a cooler.

We were catching blue crabs, whose meat is sweet and succulent.

There are several rules and regulations enforced by the South Carolina Fish and Game Department to make sure the blue crabs aren’t over-fished.


For one thing, they must measure at least five inches across at the broadest part of their bodies. Get caught with one that measures four and three-quarter inches and the cost of your free crab legs can suddenly become very expensive.

Speaking of expenses…we left our free crabs in the cooler and that evening visited a restaurant on the dock off Folly Island, where the wait for a table was one and one-half hours.

Fishermen were bringing in baskets of huge crabs and restaurant cooks were steaming them right there. The deal was all the crab legs you could eat for $29.98.

I kept the steamers busy.


And what’s this fallacy about you can fly cheaper than you can drive?

The roundtrip plane tickets for Bonnie and I were $800.

I could have driven the 800 miles in my old faithful “Big Red,” my 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix, which I had driven for 13 years and 151,000 miles, for just over $300, counting food and lodging on the way down and back.


“Sorrow looks back,

Worry looks around,

Faith looks up.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.