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Diversions & Excursions: Pulling Crabs from the Bay

You have to get up early if you’re going to fill your basket
     “Nothing is better than being on the water in the morning,” I tell my skeptical family as we head out the door at 5:45am.
      We are meeting Captain Trey Plumb and my colleague Audrey at Collins Marine Railway in Deale. Plumb, owner of FishMermaniac Charters, is a Maryland native and a lifelong waterman. He has been fishing the Bay, its tributaries and the Atlantic Ocean for more than 30 years. Five years ago, he expanded his business by offering crabbing charters.
      “It’s something that not everyone is offering,” he says.
      Sleepy kids come to life when Plumb and his wife Kim welcome us aboard the 26-foot customized deadrise. Both comfortable and practical, the boat is equipped with a picnic table and plenty of cooler space for a day’s catch. “I can take a group of six out for a day of crabbing and even serve crabs right on the boat,” Plumb says.
       FishMermaniac’s four-hour crabbing charters are family-friendly, and their booze cruises and dinner cruises are popular with adults.
     On board, Kim teaches 9-year-old Thomas and 11-year-old Elizabeth how to measure and sort the crabs we will be catching. 
      Once in the mouth of Herring Bay, Plumb drops the trotline, 2,000 feet of cord baited with chicken necks and anchored and buoyed on each end. Then, he uses a hook to lift the line over the roller and drives the boat parallel to the trotline. This pulls the trotline to the surface and allows us to scoop the crabs using a wire-mesh net. We take turns scooping, measuring and sorting.
      The crabs are plentiful and the work is exhilarating.
      By 9:30am, we return to the marina with a bushel of large male crabs. Most of Plumb’s charters catch between one and two bushels. Passengers leave with enough crabs to fill their bellies, memories and a strong desire to book another charter.
      “Next time, let’s bring our cousins,” Thomas says, no longer a skeptic. “They’ll love this!”