I don't think you'd find many people that would disagree that peeler crabs or "pelns"
as they are locally known,are the best fishing bait that you can get. Whether they are green crabs,velvet crabs,spider crabs
or edible crabs,they will outfish all other baits on most occasions. There are 2 downsides to them however,first is they are
not the easiest thing to find in any numbers in the Neuk any more,and if you have to buy them they are expensive. Personally
in the summer I'll have a rake for a few when I'm worm digging,but the effort needed to find a good supply hardly justifies
the difference to them and good old lugworm.
To find peelers locally the weather has to be warm,usually May until August mainly,and
and you just simply have to put in the time going through rock pools,turning over stones and checking crabs as you find them.
If you find a large male crab carrying a female under him,then the bottom one is a peeler,that's a certainty,but as there
are no mud flats around here to put out traps it can be a slow process.
Anyway,when you do find a crab,have a hold of it and look at it's backmost leg.
Gently snap off the end section of leg,and it will just be either a bit of white flesh,(not
a peeler),or it will have a fully formed soft leg under the shell which means it's what you're looking for.
This will mean that when you pull off the main back shell it will have the soft shell
underneath and will be ready to bait up.
Top bait them up,simply whip on with bait elastic. You may hear some people advocating
stripping off every segment of shell,or discarding the lungs,but I can only say what I do and that is simply pull off the
back shell,maybe take off the nippers if it's a big one,but then just whip it onto the hook.
When you're looking for crabs you may also come across very recently peeled crabs
whose shells are still soft and they too make good bait and are fished in the same way.