Crabbing seems a national obsession down south, though not so much in Scotland (unless you know differently?
It seems every English seaside resort has a harbour wall populated by kids dangling crabbing lines down into the murky water.
Beside every kid is a bucket of captured crabs awaiting release. Competition burns fiercely in those determined youngsters.
A crabbing kit comprises a spool of line with a wee muslin or cloth bag at the end. Crabs are not hooked or netted – they simply cling to the outside of the bag, frantic to get to the bait inside.
There are two main skills to crabbing. You must choose the best bait. Secret recipes and potions abound but a favourite is bacon. Next you must master the art of slowly raising your line without the crabs falling off. The bit between the water’s surface and the wall top is the trickiest.
Crabbing also seems to be a holiday hobby passed down through families. You will often see parents relishing the experience of passing their crabbing hints and tips to their children.
Best of all, no crab is harmed in the process, though I suspect some are caught several times a day!
What seaside holiday resort activity can you think of that comes so cheaply and gives hours of fun? It seems likely that many of the participants are urban kids with little or no contact with nature during the rest of the year.
Naturalists have to start somewhere. I wonder how many had their fascination with the natural world sparked off by childhood crabbing?
By George Hogg, Hogg Estate Services