My full-keeled Morgan 33 O.I. doesn't snag them at all, but when I was running a 27 Catalina with a fin keel I managed to snag one just about every week. At the end of summer, the entire upper bay above Pooles Island is a minefield of crab pots, especially in depths of 5 to 15 feet, which is most of the area excluding the main channel.
As for the cutters, they work to some extent, but not always. And, they're expensive.
When I was running a 21 Proline powered with a 150 HP Yamaha outboard I wrapped a pot near the mouth of Whitehall Bay. That pot was a derelict and in 4 feet of water with no float attached. The line was floating just beneath the surface when I snagged it on my prop and wrapped the put around my prop and lower unit. The resulting damage set me back $1,600 for a replacement gear case and prop repair.
Keep in mind that according to a study done by VIMS, there are more than 1-million derelict crab pots in Chesapeake Bay. Despite claims to the contrary by commercial crabbers, those derelict pots kill something every day of the week. Not only do they kill crabs, they kill millions upon millions of finfish as well.
The crabber claim that once the pots are fouled with marine growth that nothing will enter them, therefore they are innocuous. The VIMS study clearly revealed this was definitely not the case. Large numbers of small to mid-size flounder, striped bass, white perch, yellow perch, Atlantic croaker, whelk, blue crab, spider crab, Atlantic puffer, and a host of lesser known species were found in the derelict traps.
Crabbers claimed while they lost approximately 30 percent of their pots every season, they didn't really pose a threat to the environment and that they would rot away in just a few months. Turns out that most of the newer crab pots are constructed of wire that is coated to prevent corrosion and rust. The VIMS study says these traps can last up to 10 years in the bay's marine environment, and maybe longer, thus compounding the problem.
At one time, VIMS and MD DNR put a bounty on derelict crab pots of $1 for each one retrieved. If my memory serves me correctly, a couple guys with grappling hooks picked up more than 4-thousand at the mouth of the Patuxent River alone. And, it only took them a couple days to do this. Both agencies have since removed the bounty program, claiming they ran out of funds.
Just another fun day in Paradise,