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Great news for anyone who loves fresh crab meat! According to a 2019 survey, nearly 600 million blue crabs live in the Chesapeake Bay. That’s a 60% increase from last year. With 465 miles of shoreline, Virginia’s River Realm is one of Virginia’s best destinations to crab. 

How to pick the right one!

If you love crab meat, you know that fresh crab is the best. Whether you’re catching your own or looking for places to get fresh local seafood, Virginia’s River Realm has plenty of local spots where you can pick up these tasty treats!

Picking the tastiest crab can be a little tricky for a novice. Here are some tips to help you pick the right one. 

  1. Look for crabs that appear lively. Crabs that don’t move around a lot may mean something is wrong under the shell. This can mean the meat is tainted and which will give an undesirable taste.
  2. Pick them up. Touch them. Test their weight in your hand. If they are light, that usually means that they do not have a lot of meat. You want to choose a heavier one.
  3. It’s a fact that female blue crabs tend to be meatier than their male counterparts. Some locals like to throw them back in the water to make sure there are more crabs next year. 

Catch a “jimmy” or a “sook”?

You may hear this lingo and have no clue what people are talking about. No worries, we’ll have you talking like a local in no time. A “jimmy” is a male crab and a “sook” is a female. Wondering how to know the difference between a male and a female? Male blue crabs will have blue claws, while the ends of a female blue crab’s claws will exhibit a red tint. Now you are ready to go crabbing! 

Crabbing DIY


Public Piers

  1. There are a few public piers in the River Realm where you can set up your chairs or dangle those feet in the water and wait for one to bite! These locations will have you feeling more at one-with-nature, so expect minimal amenities. Merroir, Urbanna Town Marina & Deltaville Maritime Museum also have public areas where you can hook your catch!

Buy Your Tackle

  1. J&W SeafoodHead to JW Seafood where they will kit you out with all the essentials to crab off the dock. J & W’s can help you contact a captain to charter your excursion, fix you up with bait and get your fishing and boating license, too! Fill your cooler with lunch, snacks, drinks and ice in this one-stop shop.

101 Tutorials

  1. Belle Isle State Park This a great spot where you can learn crabbing 101 scheduled periodically in the Summer. You can also purchase your crabbing supplies at the camp store at any time of the year. Belle Isle State Park offers a great intro to crabbing for just $2 per person, but be careful they can pinch! The park also offers lectures and demonstrations on watermen culture, oysters, insects and more. Pre-Registration is recommended, please call 804-462-5030 or stop by the Camp Store. See more offerings here.

Camp and Crab

  1. Camping – Bethpage Camp-Resort and Grey’s Point are excellent locations for camp and crab. Both have country stores to buy poles, bait, snacks and restrooms. They also have boat ramps that the public can use for a small fee.

Where to Buy Fresh Crabs

J&W Seafood – Gourmet Market is a one stop shop for crabs in Virginia’s River Realm. They offer anything from fresh steamed crabs if you like to pick your own or if you are short on time they offer anything from lump or backfin crabmeat by the pound. If you want to save even more time, J & W offers customers delicious pre-made crab cakes (secret family recipe), crab dip and deviled crabs.

Not a picker but just want to savor that delicate flaky crabmeat without the work? If you are not into catching your own dinner, or picking your own crab meat, just stop by Miss Mary Seafood, they will hook you up with the catch of the day. This new fresh seafood shop offers seasonal pre-picked crab by the pound, as well as many varieties of fresh caught seafood ready for your next culinary creation!

Where in the world are you visiting from?

We would love to know! Share your travel story on Instagram. Tag @virginiasriverrrealm in your photos and share where you come from, why you visit the area, and what you discovered on your most recent trip!

Discover Your Perfect River Realm Adventure!

Are you the type that loves an outdoor adventure? Or are you looking to spend quality time with your loved ones splashing along our shorelines?

Discover your perfect path for exploring the wonders of Virginia’s River Realm.