Whether you’re from the west or east coast, you’re at least fairly familiar with crab snaring, but one question you probably have is what the best conditions are for optimum snaring success. Is it low tide or high tide? After all, crab meat is a delicious meal worth going out and finding yourself, but not under just any conditions.
The best time for fishermen to start crab snaring is two hours before the low tide begins. Low tide paired with a slow current and calm weather is the best time for crab snaring. Crab snaring at high tide will minimize the rate of successful catches as the crabs can’t look for the bait.
If you want to learn which tide is the best to fish for crab and why, the risks with high tide, and how to reduce those risks, keep reading! It’s all below.
Is High Tide or Low Tide Better for Crab Snaring?
In my experience, and that of other passionate crab fishermen, the best time for crab snaring has always been at low tide with a calm, slow current and agreeable weather. Specifically, you want to try to arrive at your chosen fishing spot two hours before low tide for a couple of hours or until the waves start getting rough.
You can keep snaring up to two hours after low tide ends. After that, you’ll start risking all the problems that can come with high tide. For one thing, high tide brings the right conditions for strong currents and choppy waves.
Your crabs will be too busy trying not to be carried away by the current across the tidal flats to notice your bait. It’s just not the time they hunt.
That’s just one problem with crab snaring at high tide. You should know several other problems that will help you see that trying to snare at high tide is more or less pointless.
The Risks of Crab Snaring in High Tide
Fishing in high tide is inherently riskier than fishing in low tide, but it’s usually been worth it because the food in the sea sediment gets stirred up, and your fish become more active. But we’re talking about crabbing, and several risks can mean losing your dinner:
- Your line and loops get slack
- You lose your snare entirely
- Your snare will bounce
A slackline is precisely what you hope to avoid, right? Unfortunately, the waves are more likely to crash harder and harder during high tide, especially in poor weather, and put slack on your line. That would open up your snare’s loops and risk releasing your crabs.
If your line isn’t becoming slack in strong winds and big waves, then it’s bouncing. Snares rely on having the loops be unnoticeable to the crab, but if your snare and loops are bouncing, you’ve lost the element of surprise and risk confusing and repelling the crabs.
It can get worse than that, though. If you have a thinner line, such as a 20lbs line, the rough waves can make the line snap, losing everything.
How to Minimize Risks when Snaring at High Tide
The best thing you can do is avoid crab snaring during high tide. It’s just too risky. You can take some preventative measures that will help you avoid the high tide and strong currents.
You can avoid accidentally finding yourself in high tide by paying attention to the tide charts for your local area or intended fishing area. Remember that high tides and low tides are typically 6 hours apart.
You can find out how strong the current will be with a bit of math. If you calculate the difference in the depth of the water in feet between low and high tide, the greater the difference will mean a stronger current for the day.
If the current becomes stronger while you’re out, come prepared with some 3oz circle weights and 5oz pyramid weights attached to the bottom of your snare with those heavy duo-lock clips. That will reduce the bouncing and the risk of losing your trap.
The Benefits of Crab Snaring in Low Tide
While we’ve covered the reasons not to go crab snaring during high tides, we still need to explore the various logical reasons and benefits of snaring during low tides. As you can imagine, these benefits include,
- The crabs are able to search for food
- Your snare won’t bounce
- Your line is less likely to snap
- You don’t have to fight the tide.
High tide doesn’t always come with choppy waters and strong currents, but it usually will, and it prevents the crabs from feeding. On the other hand, low tide is much calmer, and the crabs utilize their time to scavenge for food.
Rough waters also make line fishing, in general… tricky. In rough waters and high winds, you’re competing to keep the loops tight as you hopefully try to reel in your catch.
Not only that, but it makes it so much harder to distinguish what the pressure you’re feeling on your line is. In low tide, there’s no question if the pressure you feel is the waves, the current, the wind, or the crabs.
There’s also the benefit of having a much more relaxing fishing experience. Zero stress. That’s not a major benefit of crab snaring at low tide, but if you’re a casual fisherman looking for a pleasant crab snaring trip, that might matter to you.
It seems pretty certain that low tide presents the most favorable conditions for crab snaring, but as you comb through other crab snaring articles, you’ll probably come across anglers who will suggest snaring at slack tide instead of low tide. Is it better than low tide in any way?
Crab Snaring at Slack Tide
For those of you that haven’t heard of this before, the slack tide is the time when the water is calmest. It occurs just before the tide reverses so that high tide becomes low tide and vice-versa.
If low tide is the best time to snare crabs, why might you want to go at slack tide? So what’s the benefit? Having the water so calm will allow you to cast your snare out into deep waters without fear of having your line snap or getting the snare caught in some rocks.
What matters is finding a time when the water has enough of a current to carry the smell of your bait to the crabs but not so strong a current that the crabs end up seeing your loops or aren’t able to crawl across the seafloor.
Since low tide will have a slightly stronger current without being severe, I still suggest low tide over slack tide, but I will also suggest both for a few reasons:
- They both have good conditions for crab snaring
- Arriving 2-3 hours before low tide lets you fish in slack tide followed by low tide anyway
- You will have an 8-9 hour window to snare crabs
I hope you guys learned everything you needed today! If you’re new to the thrill of crab snaring, one thing you should check before buying your equipment is checking the fishing regulations for your area. In California, for example, you can’t use snares with more than 6 loops, so you would have to cut off any extra loops before fishing.