How To Catch Fiddler Crabs For Bait (Quick & Easy Way)

By: Tony Acevedo on February 27, 2020
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how to catch fiddler crabs for bait

Sheepshead, black drum, redfish, snook and even tarpon love fiddler crabs.

They’re like bite-sized treats that predator fish just can’t resist.

In the summertime, you see armies of these little morsels on the shore, but they’re not so prevalent in the winter.

And of course, wintertime is sheepshead time, so this is one of the best times to use them.

In this video, I’m going to show you how to find, catch and keep fiddler crabs for bait—even in the winter.

Let’s dive in!

How To Catch Fiddler Crabs [VIDEO]

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Before you start wrangling up fiddler crabs, you need to make sure you’re in the right type of spot.

When & Where To Find Fiddler Crabs

Soft sandy or muddy shorelines with structure are the best spots to find fiddler crabs.

In the video above, I was on the shore of a quiet creek off of the main river.

As far as types of structure, I like to look for:

  • Mangrove trees
  • Roots
  • Tree limbs
  • Grass
  • Docks

I also try to avoid areas with lots of human activity such as foot traffic, noise, or cars because the crabs will be more skittish and try to hide in these areas.

Now in the summer you can see colonies of these guys on the shorelines so it’s a lot easier to catch them then.

But in the winter, they’re more likely to be hiding out in their holes, which are round, dime-sized holes on the shore near the water.

How To Dig Up Fiddler Crabs

Once you’ve found the fiddler crab holes, all you have to do now is dig them up and grab them.

To do this, I used an old kayak paddle, but you could also use a shovel.

Place the shovel a few inches away from the hole, dig in to get under the hole, and lift up.

If there’s a fiddler crab in the hole, usually they’ll scurry out when you dig them up and you can grab them.

They do pinch, but it doesn’t hurt too bad.

How To Keep Fiddler Crabs

To keep your fiddler crabs, put them in a bucket with sand and some water.

You don’t want there to be too much water that you’re drowning the crabs, but you do want the sand to be moist.

In this video, I was catching fiddler crabs for a sheepshead trip the next day, so I also grabbed a bottle of water from the creek so I could keep the sand moist overnight.


sheepshead on fiddler crab

Most inshore fish can’t say no to a tasty fiddler crab.

And if you don’t feel like paying for them at the bait shop, or if they don’t have them, then all you have to do is go to a sandy or muddy shoreline, find their holes, and dig them up.

Have any questions about catching fiddler crabs for bait?

Let me know in the comments below!

And if you know someone who would love to learn how to catch them, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Larry Widdifield
2 months ago

Great video. Hope we can return to Florida this fall to enjoy the fishing. Minus 15 F today. The entire Salt Strong team is great. Have learnt so much and definitely catch a lot more fish. Keep it up.

2 months ago

Caught them on flats in summer by laying out a coral of plastic lawn edging and herding into that Also burying a bucket in mud and chasing into it as well as laying out a sheet especially with two people and herding onto it . Lot of great memories like the time I slid on the mud for ten feet on my back while trying to round them up This was some 50 yrs ago in Tampa Fla

3 months ago

Why the long handled scoop, if you catch them by hand?

Gene Doebley
3 months ago

I have done this and kept them in the refrigerator. The only issue is that they urinate quite a bit. After a while the sand will be urine soaked so be prepared to rinse it or change it. I’ve kept them for several days this way.

3 months ago

Very Practical, short and with live demonstration. Tony, it is one of your best videos. We have been catching near limits of Sheepshead in the 16″ to 18″ size using jigs and small pieces of shrimp … the same size as the Fiddler Crabs. Sheepshead seem to be especially fond of the shrimp’s heads. I think because it closely resembles a crab. Where are we finding fish? In the passes along rocks.

Delbert Young
3 months ago

Good video. Thanks. These are the kind of videos I like, i.e. live and actually doing it.

Joshua Deschaine
3 months ago

After you’ve collected them in your bucket and reach in there to grab them out, do they all pinch you? I’m used to just blindly reaching in the bait bucket and grabbing whatever…that would be a bummer if they pinched you every time you went in to grab one.

Tom Watts
3 months ago

Tony, Great idea. I have noticed they are hard to find in the Winter. Great. Thank you, Tom Watts, Naples, Fl.

Barry graber
3 months ago

How do you rig fiddler crabs?

Gregory Critchley
3 months ago

does it need to be saltwater to keep them damp?

Gregory Critchley
3 months ago

also, if you go after them at night with a headlamp flashlight, they don’t run because they can’t see. Try under any debris, logs, heavier palm leaves that might be on the ground near the shore etc – sometimes they don’t even burrow, and they’ll sit there while you just pluck them up