We discovered this particularly Crisfieldish pastime by talking with the lady at the Museum here in town. She said we had to try it, because there was no better way to entertain a couple of kids, and no cheaper way to eat blue crab. You take a piece of chicken neck (or other chicken meat with skin on) and tie it to the end of a long piece of twine. (Actually we used fishing string the first time we tried it, and it worked too.) You weigh it down with a rock or sinker of some kind, then drop it off the edge of the dock, tying the other end to a nail.
After a short while, the line will slowly begin to tighten up, and that means a stubborn little (or big) blue crab has found the meat and is trying to sneakily pull it away from the dock. You know they're stubborn, because as you slowly pull your line back in, the crab hangs on for dear life. He does not want to let go of that chicken neck! No hooks are needed, because they won't let go if they can help it. You just stick your net in the water and scoop up crab and line all together. If you can get the crab to let go of the net and the string, you drop him into the bucket, and throw your line back down in the water.
Aaron and the kids caught about fifteen blue crabs last night, but only kept seven or eight of the biggest males. We're planning to steam them this evening, and I hear that breaking them open and figuring out which sections are edible is the biggest challenge. I'll let you know if we succeeded in eating any, and if it was worth all the trouble. For now, just the catching part was fun enough to make it worth the price of the net and the mockery of the locals when I accidentally brought a child's minnow net up to the counter the first time. (The folks at Dave's RV and Marine Supply are helpful and friendly, but they like a good laugh, too.)
When you're done catching all you want to catch, an added bonus is throwing the leftover chicken skins to the sea gulls. They get very excited when people throw them food. My children may have taken advantage of this fact in the past to try to spatter low-flying gulls with carefully crafted sand balls. Maybe. I'm not admitting anything. (Also, hypothetically, their sand balls wouldn't adhere well enough to handle much flight. If they were to make them, of course.)
Mim has already started developing an attachment to the crabs, so we'd better get them into the cooking pot pretty soon. She was given permission to set one aside to "observe" earlier today. She specifically chose an ugly one so she wouldn't feel to bad later when we cooked him. How one determines the beauty of a crab I don't know, but apparently she does, so that's all that matters.