How To Find Fiddler Crabs In The WINTER (For Sheepshead)
Fiddler crabs are my favorite bait when I’m targeting sheepshead in the winter.
- Sheepshead can’t resist a wriggling fiddler crab
- Fiddler crabs last much longer than shrimp
But here’s the problem: fiddler crabs are hardest to find in the winter, both in the bait shops and on the shorelines.
Of course, in the summer, you can barely avoid stepping on them when you’re walking around a muddy creek bank.
Yet in the winter, when you want to find them most, they seem to disappear.
But no worries — in this video I’m going to show you the secret to finding fiddler crabs in the winter, even when it seems like they’re all gone.
Let’s dive in!
Finding Fiddler Crabs In Winter [VIDEO]
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When it’s warm out, you can easily find hoards of fiddler crabs roaming the creek banks.
But when it’s cold out, they disappear into their dime-sized holes in the ground.
So to catch them, all you need to do is find the holes, dig next to the holes, and pry them out.
To find fiddler crabs in the winter, make a mental note of where you see them when it’s warm out so you can go to the same spots when it’s cold and you want to catch them.
You can also look around these types of spots to find them:
- Shorelines near boat ramps
- Muddy backwater beaches
- Sandy shorelines with structure or debris
On this trip, I used an old paddle to dig them out, but you can also use a shovel if you want.
Now once you’ve found and caught them, place them in a bucket with moist sand to keep them overnight.
You’ll need to keep the sand moist, so fill up an old water bottle with water from where you caught the crabs.
And be careful to only keep the sand moist — you don’t want to submerge the crabs or they will drown.
What To Do If You Can’t Find Fiddler Crabs
You should be able to find fiddler crabs, but if you’re short on time or just can’t seem to dial it in, another good option is using fiddler crab lures.
We’ve been testing them out here at Salt Strong and have found they work surprisingly well.
Check out this video to see a full trip where we used these crab lures to catch sheepshead.
Fiddler crabs can be a little tougher to find in the winter, but not impossible.
Just look for dime-sized holes near the shoreline and dig them up with a shovel or old paddle.
And then, once you’ve caught them, keep them in a bucket with moist sand to keep them lively for when you’re ready to use them.
Have any questions about catching fiddler crabs in the winter?
Let me know down in the comments.
And if you know someone who wants to use fiddler crabs to catch sheepshead in the winter, please TAG or SHARE this with them!
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Great video! About six weeks ago we had a warm sunny afternoon here in the Panhandle. I caught about 50 fiddlers and made a “fiddler farm” for them. In a 5 gallon bucket I put about 6″ of sand covered with dead grass from the shore. Added a little bay water and dumped them in. They burrowed in. I change out the sand and grass about every three weeks and add a tablespoon or two of meaty cat food to feed them. Even with near freezing temps, the ones I haven’t used for fishing are still kicking. It will be interesting if they survive till spring.
Thank you for the great feedback Tom!
That’s awesome! I actually plan to make a video on how to keep them for a long period of time. You’ll have to change out the water often and also the sand every now and then, but it’s pretty simple maintenance to keep them alive. I also like to use fish food flakes or toss a couple orange peels in with them to feed on.
awesome! i’ve had them survice only 10 days but now i’ll start to keep a “farm” also 🙂
Hey tony so what’s the legality of digging up the shoreline like that in the Merritt island wildlife refuge. Like playlinda’s eddy creek mosquito lagoon area
From what I have gathered, no digging is allowed on the dike roads in the refuge. For a definite answer I would contact the refuge. Commercial harvesting is a definite no no in that area without a special permit.
I tried this same technique last winter with my 6 year old son after watching a similar video you made and we only caught a few but we had a good time anyways. But we did catch a Sheepshead with one of them and it was a good time. I think we’ll have to try again..maybe we can get more this time. Thanks Tony!
Good stuff Robert! I prefer fiddler crabs over any other type of bait for sheepshead. They last longer since the bait stealers don’t pick them apart in seconds like they do shrimp.
The middle of 2020 into the beginning of 2021 has been a bad time for harvesting fiddler crabs for me. Is anyone else having this same problem?
We had them in our bait shops pretty consistently up until the weather cooled off. Now it’s best to look for areas to dig them up yourself before a trip. If you can find sand fleas at the bait shop they are a great alternative.
Oldie but a goodie. Great video. I can vouch that this works. You just need to accept and build in time on the front end.
Definitely takes some dedication to go out and catch them before a trip, but well worth it!
Always enjoy out of the box topics like this. Nice!
Thank you for the great feedback Mark!
Great video. Thanks, Tony. Much appreciated.
You’re welcome Dana!
Thanks, Tony. I really appreciate your short and to-the-point videos.
My pleasure Larry! Thank you for the awesome feedback!
How do you put a small fiddler crab on a hook to keep it alive??
I just go up through the belly and out of the top of the crab. Here is a video on rigging them up:
Fiddlers are mostly gone in the North East, but we used to get them by jamming some clothes hanger wire in the ground a couple of feet apart and attaching a car battery to them. Get ready they pour out of their holes
Just waiting on the comments. 😀
Haha thats an interesting method for sure.