As members of the family Ocypodidae, fiddler crabs are most closely related to the ghost crabs of the genus Ocypode. This entire group is composed of small crabs – the largest being slightly over two inches across. Like all crabs, fiddler crabs shed their shells as they grow and if they have lost legs or claws during their present growth cycle a new one will be present when they molt. If the large fiddle claw is lost, males will develop one on the opposite side after their next molt. Newly molted crabs are very vulnerable because of their soft shells. They are reclusive and hide until the new shell hardens. As bait, fiddler crabs are loved by inshore species such as sheepshead, pompano and permit.
How to Catch Fiddler Crabs
Fiddler crabs are found along sea beaches and brackish inter-tidal mud flats, lagoons and swamps. You can usually see them crawling around and you will see lots of holes in the sand, which is their escape routes. There are a few different ways to catch them. Some anglers dig holes and put small buckets or cans flush with the sand and as the fiddler crabs walk along, they will fall into your traps. Others use nets and will catch them by chasing them towards their nets. However you catch them, they are awesome baits for so many different fish.
Using Fiddler Crabs as Bait
Fiddler crabs work great on a fairly small hook and a split shot weight or your favorite bottom rig. Fish them inshore and you will catch a variety of fish.