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Mud crab fishing is a cherished tradition in Australia, particularly in Queensland. It's an activity that brings families together and offers a delightful culinary reward. This comprehensive guide will take you through every aspect of mud crab fishing, from the best times and locations to the equipment, techniques, and responsible practices.
Mud crabs are nocturnal creatures, making night-time the ideal period for crabbing. Leaving your traps overnight often leads to a successful catch. Rain can stimulate crab activity, but if there's excessive rain, move the pots to deeper water.
Contrary to popular belief, crabs can be caught year-round, even in months without an ‘r.’
Picking the right spot for your crab trap is vital. In the wet season, mud crabs favor brackish waters, so set your pots along shallow coastal lines. In the dry season, follow the saltwater up the rivers and creeks. Consider small creeks and deep gutters, and always position the trap's opening to face the current. It's these details that can make your crabbing successful.
Different pots suit different needs:
Rectangular Pots: Affordable but may require frequent repairs. Easy to transport and store as they are usually collapsible. We'd recommend replacing the included bait bag with something a bit sturdier, like a Crab'n Gear Bait Bag.
Round, Four-Entry Heavy-Duty Crab Pots: Durable and effective. A more heavy duty, reliable option which will last longer than the cheaper alternative. With four entry points, round pots are easier for crabs to get in to. We recommend Crab'n Gear Pro Pots.
Metal Crab Pots: Solid, heavy duty metal pots that come in a solid or collapsible version. We are proud stockists of Crabcatch Metal pots and bait cages
Pot Placement: Ensure the pot is flat on the bottom and not on a branch or obstacle.
Rope Management: Use clip-on sinkers or weighted rope to prevent floating ropes that can be hit by propellers.
Bait Management: Consider heavy-duty drawstring bait bags for rectangular pots, or metal bait cages.
Explore rocky foreshores, expansive mud flats, and areas close to mangroves for land-based crabbing. Be prepared to get muddy!
Fresh bait is essential. Options include:
Chicken Carcasses: Inexpensive and effective. Can be purchased at your local supermarket or butcher
Fish Frames: Attracts crabs with their scent. Most bait shops sell bags of ‘crab bait’, which is usually Mullet heads and frames
Whole Mullet: Score the flesh of fresh mullet down to the bone for ideal crab bait
Kangaroo Meat: Popular in North Queensland. A great option, but it needs to be fresh
Fisheries Queensland regulates and enforces size and possession limits for mud crab fishing. You can find our more information on the Fisheries Queensland website. The following rules apply:
Size Limit: 15cm minimum size for mud crabs
Individual Limit: Limit of 7 mud crabs per person
Boat Limit: Limit of 14 mud crabs per boat (with 2 or more people on board)
No Take: Female mud crabs are not to be taken
Shell & Claws: You can't possess mud crabs with the shell missing or claws without the rest of the crab
In Queensland, taking female crabs is prohibited to protect the breeding population. Female mud crabs can be identified by their broader and more rounded abdominal flap, compared to the narrow and more triangular flap of males. If you catch a female crab, it should be returned to the water unharmed.
Proper Tagging: Ensure your crab pot is tagged with your surname and address
Regular Checks: Don't leave gear unattended for more than 7 days
Avoid Hooking Crabs: Hooking crabs is illegal in many areas
Don't Interfere with Others' Gear: Interfering with or stealing crabs or crab pots is a criminal offense
By following these guidelines and being aware of local regulations, you can enjoy mud crab fishing responsibly and contribute to the conservation of this valuable resource.
Mud crab fishing is an enriching experience that combines adventure, skill, and culinary delight. This master guide has equipped you with the knowledge to embark on a successful crabbing journey. From the thrill of the catch to the taste of freshly cooked mud crabs, the world of crabbing awaits you. Always remember to follow responsible practices and enjoy the unique joy that crabbing brings.