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Cromer crab

How to go crabbing

Catching crabs by a line (also called Gillie-crabbing) is as old as the seaside itself, but how to do it hasn't changed a great deal. So here's how you do it… step by step.

The best way to learn is not by the textbook, but by experience… and a few nips on the fingers.

Crabbing at Wells-next-the-Sea

Norfolk's great for crabbing because of its estuarial and creek waters that the little blighters like inhabiting. Top spots are Blakeney and Wells-next-the-Sea quays and Cromer. Or go for the tidal creeks at Titchwell, Brancaster Staithe or Burnham Overy Staithe.

And to taste the crustaceans, look no further than Cromer, where they are so plump and succulent because they feed off the world's longest chalk reef. It's true! You'll also find it on the menu at many pubs and cafes by the coast. We love The Crab Hut at Brancaster Staithe and beach cafe at Winterton-on-Sea.

Norfolk's chalk reef

Norfolk's top 10 foods

Lobsters and crabs

A crab at Blakeney - Arnhel de Serra

Step-by-step guide to crabbing

1 All you need is a piece of string or line, a weight and a bait. Try not to use nets and hooks – they're very unsporting. Dynamite and blunderbusses are actively discouraged.

2 This is a sport of quality not quantity. The goal is to get the heaviest specimen.

3 Look after them in water-filled buckets until the game is over and they are returned, unharmed, to their natural habitat.

4 Tie the bait (perhaps fish like mackerel, particularly the heads, or bacon or even dough soaked in whisky) to the end of your string, with the weight tied just above. Lower to the bottom and wait. By all means do the 'Huckleberry Finn' and tie the other end of the string to a toe and just lay back and relax. When you feel a tug, pull… but very, very slowly.

5 Be patient. If the crab thinks it's in the speedy elevator going up The Shard in London it will drop off. And you'll be left at square one.

6 When you pull one up successfully (and you will!) handle it from the back. The things that pinch are at the front!

7 Once you've returned your crabs to the sea water, we recommend celebrating your success with a delicious sandwich or salad… of Cromer crab!

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Crabbing at Wells-next-the-Sea

Norfolk coast

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