Bait bags are a familiar sight in pot and trap fisheries. However, these bags have also found a new purpose in the trotline fishery for blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay. As traditional bait like razor clams work best for catching blue crabs, fishermen put them in bait containers inside their traps.

Unlike some fishing methods that involve traps, the trotline fishery relies on a technique that doesn’t harm marine habitats. Fishermen lay out long ‘trotlines’ that span up to 4,000 feet, with pieces of bait attached every 8 feet. Common baits used are chicken necks and cow lips, which are attached to the trotline with short pieces of shock or stretch cord. Blue crabs are lured by the bait and find themselves caught on the trotline. As the line is hauled and reset, a retention net on the boat captures the crabs. This method not only allows for a sustainable catch of blue crabs, but also preserves the integrity of the ocean ecology.

The trotline fishermen begin their day at daybreak and make up to twelve hauls before selling their catch in the afternoon. While they have always known that clams make the best bait, attaching them to their snoods like other baits was challenging. However, this situation changed around 2004.

Supply Company Receives Unique Requests from Eastern Shore Fisherman

In 2004, a marine supply company received unexpected calls from trotliners located in Rockhall on Maryland’s Eastern shore. The callers expressed an interest in purchasing tubular bait bag netting from the company, but the company was curious about the intended use, assuming it was for blue crab traps. However, the fishermen had a unique purpose in mind: they were creating 9-inch bait bags from the netting to hold razor clams, their preferred bait. They were able to increase their catch significantly compared to using conventional baits.

Innovative Crab Fishing Method Unveiled by Chesapeake Bay Fishermen

Fishermen have a tradition of keeping their innovations secret, but it’s hard to keep secrets for long on the waterfront. It’s not a surprise that other fishermen have quickly caught on when one crew is using 500 orange bait bags on a trotline and catching more crabs than their neighbors on the water. This innovation was created by a group of fishermen from Rockhall, Chestertown, Tilghman, Cambridge, and several other ports, and it shows no signs of stopping.

Simplify Your Crab Trotline Baiting with SnapBait

Introducing SnapBait – the solution to your crab trotline baiting woes. After trying various materials, we hit the jackpot with corrosion-resistant stainless steel, leading to the birth of SnapBait.

These innovative bait holders can be easily attached to your existing bags in under a minute. They’re also removable and transferable to new bags. With just a simple squeeze, the bag pops open, allowing you to replace old bait with fresh bait. The bag snaps closed upon release, and you can re-bait as quickly as you can pick up clams.

Simplify and streamline your crab trotline baiting with SnapBait today.