As the people who live in Bridge City, Groves and Orangefield Texas already know, crabbing on Baileys road is a local tradition.
Before the Rainbow Bridge was built there was a ferry that ran between Bridge City and Port Arthur.
Baileys road was constructed through the middle of a marsh. As you are driving down the road, there is a canal that runs parallel to the road on the right hand side, and marsh grass on the left hand side.
When the road intersects Sabine Lake, the road makes a 90 degree turn to the left.
From the 90 degree turn, Baileys road winds along the edge of Sabine Lake for maybe 1/2 a mile or so until the road crosses over a bridge and dead ends.
After the Rainbow Bridge was built, people no longer needed the ferry so it was decommissioned. Even though the ferry was gone, Baileys has remained a popular icon.
There were two buildings on Baileys road: the two story dance hall and the bait store that was next to the boat launch.
Up until the 1990s there was a boat launch and store at the end of Baileys road. I remember my dad launching his boat from the Baileys road boat launch back in the early 1980s. after launching the boat, we would go fishing in Sabine Lake.
After Mr. Bailey passed away, the store and boat launch fell into disarray. I forget the exact years, but someone tried to rebuild the store and get the boat launch going again. In September 2008 Hurricane Ike destroyed the buildings on Baileys road.
Today, Baileys road is a popular place where the locals can go crabbing and fishing.
How long have I been crabbing on Baileys road? During the summer break of 1984 some of my buddies and I spent a week crabbing on Baileys. We caught crabs just about all day long, boiled them that evening, then played monopoly late into the night.
How To Catch Crabs
I like to use chicken wings. Some people use chicken necks. But either way, you need some kind of meat that will sink to the bottom of the canal.
Tie a string onto the piece of meat. I use white trotline string.
Tie the other end of the string to something. I like to tie a loop knot, then put the loop around my wrist. Some people may tie the string to something like an ice chest.
Throw the piece of meat into the water.
Gently pull the slack out of the line.
As you are holding the line snug, you will feel the crab tugging on the bait.
Slowly, and gently pull the bait towards shore.
As the white meat of the chicken becomes barely visible under the water, get teh net ready.
Some people put the net on the bottom of the water, pull the bait over the net along with the crab, then lift the net.
I like to scoop the bait and crab with the net. When the crab realizes what is going on, he will detach from the bait and head towards deep water. Insert the net behind the bait and the crab, then run the net along the bottom to scoop up the bait and the crab.
Being out on Baileys Road is a fun, enjoyable and family friendly activity. For the most part people are friendly and considerate.
The kids love catching crabs, and it teaches them patience. If you try to pull the crab in too fast it may get off the line. This is a nice break from our fast paced world.
The only real problem with crabbing on Baileys Road in Bridge City, there are no restrooms and the heat can get bad. Unless someone brings a canopy there is no shade, so be careful with children getting too hot.