How To: Go Crabbing!

How To: Go Crabbing!

For me crabbing is one of the most rewarding forms of fishing. You get to actually see what you are trying to catch, you are pretty much guaranteed to catch it (sooner or later) and depending on your method it can be quite an active sport! In this post I am going to detail how you can give crabbing a shot yourself and the rules and methods for catching, measuring and looking after your catch.


The time to go crabbing is just after sunset and well on into the night. The place to go crabbing is river inlets or shallow and sheltered bays and sounds. You will know if you’ve got a good spot when you see plenty of people doing the exact same thing!

First of all though; you will need tools. The legal tools for catching crabs include drop nets, scoop nets, wire hook or bare hands (actually, gloves are allowed and may be a good idea). However; today I will just cover drop nets and scoop nets, the two most popular.

drop-net-crabbing-rockinghamDrop nets are more commonly used for boats, but can be used by hand in the shallows as we did on this occasion. Pick em up for under $10 each and tie a lump of meat into the middle. Give the crabs 5 minutes or so to come and investigate before hauling the net in relatively quickly and you might just find a few chilling in the bottom. They are easily picked up at any store stocking fishing gea



scoop-blue-swimmer-crab-perthScoop nets are the more hands on option. They can be a little pricier than drop nets but not by much. I enjoy the scooping method as there is a lot more action involved. With the most powerful torch you can get (preferably a head lamp to keep your hands free) you simply walk through the shallows, spot the crab and quickly swoop on it with your scoop! Get one of these at the larger or more specialist fishing stores.


Of course there are a few legalities to be observed as with any kind of fishing. Crabbing is allowed most places, but there is a closed season which varies from  place to place. Some areas are closed to it completely. First of all is the size limit, which in W.A. is 127mm carapace width. This is the length between the two longest spines on the sides of the crabs shell. You can buy a crab measure which is made to this size, use a tape measure, or cut something to size to do the job. Secondly, if the crab has a spongy mass of black or orange underneath, then it is a female bearing eggs. She must be returned to the water within 5 minutes of capture. Again, check all of these details with your state fisheries department (easily found online).

Measuring the crab's carapace width

Keeping your crabs alive until cooking is an important part to be considered. The most ideal way seems to be wrapping each crab in some wet cloth and putting them on ice. The ice will send them dormant and the moist cloth will keep them alive. Second to that would be placing them in fresh seawater, although they have a tendency to take out their anger on one another and you end up with a bucket full or arms and legs.


Very shortly I will be covering the cooking and serving of your catch, so stay tuned and subscribe to email updates at the top of this post, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Google+ so that you don’t miss out!



Alex Garner

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  1. Aaron at 4WDing Australia
    January 10, 07:23 Reply
    Nothing beats a good feed of blue manna's! Have you ever dived for them? Lots of fun; and much faster than scooping or potting. Most of them are in under 3 metres of water; dawn or dark is the best time and you just swim along and pick them up (with welding gloves!)
    • Alex Garner
      January 10, 11:18 Reply
      I never have dived for them Aaron, and I bet you find all the big ones down there too! I suppose you'd get your bag limit pretty quickly?

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