Flying, or rather, side scrambling under the saltwater radar is the crabbing going on in tidal creeks and rivers, ditches, lagoons and bays.

What, with stripers, sea bass, weakfish, blues, black drum and soon-to-be fluke (the season opens Saturday) hogging the spotlight, it’s easy to see how this delectable crustacean is being ignored.

Ditto clams, but more on this bivalve bounty in a couple of weeks.

Too early for crabbing? Not so. In fact, keeper (minimum 4.5-inches from point to point on the carapace) and bigger, sometimes much bigger, crabs have been going in the buckets and bushel baskets since the last few days in April. Sure, crabbing is always thought as a summer endeavor, which it is, but veteran crabbers know full well that some good trap and drop line action gets going at the fifth turn of the calendar page. Indeed, it’s the time for quality crabbing: plenty of blueclaws sans the crowds that start rolling in the Memorial Day weekend and then hit full force the Father’s Day weekend.

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The feedbags are on. The hungry crabs, recently emerged from the mud are on the chow, with appetites increasing as waters continue to warm. They’ll zero-in on just about any kind of meat, be it fish (namely bunker) or fowl (namely chicken necks and backs).

However, we’ve had good-to-excellent catches of the ravenous springtime blueclaws baiting with chunks of carp, mackerel, suckers, the exotic invasive snakehead, and backs from pheasants taken during the previous hunting season.

Yeah, they’ll eat pretty much anything and everything, especially during the early going.

Get a jump on the impending legions of summertime crabbers and enjoy some simple fun and superlative eating afterwards.

What's been killing all the fish in NJ waterways?

Since November, there have been numerous instances of dead menhaden washing ashore or floating in waterways, including in the Raritan Bay and the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers.

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