How to Find Peeler Crabs

Updated February 21, 2017

Peeler crabs can be used as bait by anglers. The crabs are called “peelers” because they are crabs that have just begun the moulting process. Their shells are “peeling” away. These crabs are only useful as bait when they start to moult or just after they are done moulting. Peeler crabs are frequently used for baiting bass. These crabs live mostly in the northeast parts of the United States, so this is the best place to look for them.

Look for peeler crabs during their moulting seasons. The season to look for the peeler crabs runs from April to late September.

Find places on the beach where there are small pockets in slab rocks. These are the places peeler crabs like to moult in. These areas are places where the water stays shallow, but stays deep enough to cover the crab. This is usually just a few inches of water. The peeler crabs also like solitary rocks with holes beneath them.

Walk out into the water. Slowly and gently lift the rocks and look under them for crabs. If you do not find a crab, put the rock back gently and try to leave the rock in the same position it was when you lifted it. If the crabs feel that the area is disturbed, they are less likely to look for cover in that spot.

Continue lifting rocks, looking for peelers. Depending on when during the season you are looking, there may be many or only a few of the crabs.

Pull off the last segment on the back leg of any crabs you find. If there is a new segment growing underneath, then you have found a peeler. You can keep the crabs in a bucket and peel them later for bait.

Things You'll Need

  • Shoes or sandals that can get wet and grip slippery rocks
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