Here again to answer all those niggling questions about crabbing is Weekend's in-trap expert, Crabman:

Q.

Do I need a license to catch crabs?

A.

No, unless you plan to catch more than a bushel a day. Here are the regulations for the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries: Hard crabs must be 5 inches between the points to be legal. You cannot keep crabs under that size or egg-bearing females of any size. You cannot catch more than a bushel a day or two bushels per boat (with two or more crabbers in the boat). Finally, you cannot crab with more than five traps per person or with more than 500 feet of trotline. In Virginia, you can crab without a license but are limited to one dip net or one trap and a daily limit of one bushel. The size limit is 5 inches for male crabs; female crabs must be mature. (Check the bottom of the shell. The apron should be shaped like the top of the Jefferson Memorial.)

Q.

Which method does Crabman recommend?

A. Crabman has tried almost all of them. For beginners, the simplest method is the best. Tie your bait to a line with a sinker at the end. Toss it out. Check it every so often, particularly if it seems to be moving against the current, and then pull it in slowly. Maneuver a long-handled net under the crabs while they're still in the water and then scoop 'em up. The traps -- box, pyramid or the basketball-net variety -- work, but can get tangled and don't set up properly on a slanted bottom. The trotlines require boats. Face it, all you want is dinner, you aren't trying to corner the market. Keep it simple, and catch only what you can eat.

Q.

What bait do I use?

A.

Part of this answer is not for the sqeamish. When Crabman gives you a warning, stop if you have a tender tummy. The old favorite is chicken necks. Other baits used are salted eel, squid or throwaway pieces of fish filched from the trash barrels of fish markets (a truly gross experience). Crabman has tried all of them and favors chicken necks because (a) they look like something Crabman would eat (b) are cheap and easy to find (c) do not look like something Crabman would avoid eating or would step on if he saw it on the sidewalk. (Stop now if you are squeamish.) Angus Phillips, outdoor columnist for The Post, swears that the best crab bait is bull lips. Don't ask what they are. They are what they are called. Crabman feels that B*** L*** are too revolting to discuss, much less use as bait. After all, would you like to have your bait smile at you?

Q.

What do I do with the bait?

A.

Tie it to the line or bottom of the trap. You may have to bore a hole in the meat with a knife-point or awl to slip a line through to be able to tie it. Be sure it is secure; the crabs can untie tangles that have stumped Crabman.

Q.

Where can I go crabbing?

A. Crabs can be found in shallower areas of the Bay, in the creeks that feed into it, and even in lower portions of the Potomac and Patuxent rivers. Over on the Atlantic shore, crabs can be found on the bays west of the beach towns and in the creeks feeding into the bays. Stick to water less than 15 feet deep. If you are crabbing from a boat, check the charts and watch for information bouys. Some areas are closed to crabbing and fishing. Marinas are popular crabbing areas, but be sure to check with the marina operator first. Docks on private property are generally off limits, unless the owner grants permission. Bridges and piers are better than bulkheads and sea walls because at the latter two, your traps can become entangled with subsurface obstructions or battered by currents and waves.

Q.

When is the best time to go crabbing?

A. Crabman has better luck when the tide's moving than on a slack tide.

Q.

All right, now I caught a crab. How do I get it out of the net or out of the trap?

A.

Position the net or trap above your coolor and shake the crabs into it. Use gloves or tongs to overcome the intransigent ones (which will be the majority of them). Be sure to toss back the small ones and mommies. If you have to grab them with your hands, grab them by their rear thingies (the backfins), and stay out of reach of their big pinchers. Keep them cool and shaded, not frozen, and don't cook any that aren't alive.

Q.

What's the best bait for soft-shell crabs?

A.

Dollar bills, credit cards or checks. During the vulnerable period between the shedding of the old shell and the hardening of the new one, a crab isn't interested in eating, but rather in not being eaten (or, in the case of a mature female, in mating, which can only be accomplished while she's in a pliant state). You want soft crabs, take lots of money to your seafood dealer, who may demand as much as several dollars apiece.

Q.

Where does Crabman go crabbing?

A.

In the creeks and bays in and around Annapolis. Or, if all else fails, Crabman hits his top-secret hole, McNasby's Seafood on Second Street in Eastport.