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Hello,

Motoring out Wenona’s dredged channel, Mike announced we would be going for “picking crabs,” by which he meant the sooks that would be steamed and picked for crabmeat.

William Warner, Beautiful Swimmers: Waterman, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay

I usually see go shopping/fishing/crabbing. What is the difference between "go for picking crabs" and "go picking crabs"?

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I grew up around the Chesapeake Bay. It was a tradition to go buy steamed crabs for picking. They were sprinkled with red pepper, and were really messy to eat. You had to pick the meat out of the shell. Your hands and mouth would burn from the pepper, but it was still delicious. The tables were covered in paper and we wore large paper bibs to make the clean-up easier.
Companies that sold fresh crabmeat to make crabcakes (a delicacy) had to hire people to pick the crabs.

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A "picking crab" appears to be a particular type of crab. They will be trying to catch these "picking crabs". I don't know the term myself, and there are few relevant Google results. It may just mean a crab from which one can pick out crabmeat (which would be almost any type of crab, but hey).

According to one Google result, "A picking crab is a crab that recently shed its shell [and] hasn't had time for the new shell to form underneath". I don't know if this is the sense in which it is used here though.

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What is the difference between "go for picking crabs" and "go picking crabs".

go for picking crabs go for means choose the kind of crabs that would be steamed and picked for crab meat.

Consider this simpler example. At the ice-cream store, Tom always goes for chocolate ice-cream, and his sister goes for strawberryf

go picking crabs go on a trip for the purpose of picking (ie catching) crabs. This is the same structure as eg go shopping, eg go swimming.

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book mango 418go for "picking crabs"

for = to get; to collect

We're going to the market for bread and eggs. Do you want to come along?

CJ

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AlpheccaStars

I grew up around the Chesapeake Bay. It was a tradition to go buy steamed crabs for picking. They were sprinkled with red pepper, and were really messy to eat. You had to pick the meat out of the shell. Your hands and mouth would burn from the pepper, but it was still delicious. The tables were covered in paper and we wore large paper bibs to make the clean-up easier.
Companies that sold fresh crabmeat to make crabcakes (a delicacy) had to hire people to pick the crabs.

So "picking crab" just refers to the way in which the crab is intended/expected to be eaten, not to any particular characteristic of the animal itself, is that right?

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Certain crabs are thrown back; they are not suitable for this purpose. e.g. They are too young, or softshell rather than hardshell (we ate only the hardshell crabs; softshell crabs were cooked differently.) I assume that they were going after the type of crabs that met the criteria.

We kids did crabbing sometimes. We would go out on a pier or dock, tie a fresh raw chicken neck on a long string and lower it into the water. If we were lucky, and didn't raise it too fast, a crab would be latched onto the chicken neck and we could throw it into a bucket without getting our fingers pinched.

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
AlpheccaStarsIf we were lucky, and didn't raise it too fast, a crab would be latched onto the chicken neck and we could throw it into a bucket without getting our fingers pinched.

It reminds me of the famous line "Fancy picking up crabs? It's easy if you know how."

(I always thought this was apocryphal, but when I typed it into Google I found it on this page, apparently genuine!)

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go for picking crabs go for means choose the kind of crabs that would be steamed and picked for crab meat.

As I said earlier, I see 'go for' here as meaning 'choosing'.

eg

Q -Look at these sweaters. Which one do you like?

A- I go for the red one.

Clive

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