QUICK GUIDE TO FINDING MUD CRABS
I have heard folks say that mud crabs can snap the neck of a beer bottle. Now, I’m not in the business of wasting good beer, but I do know these crustaceans fill me up a treat, and the kids love spending a Sunday crabbing.
They aren’t difficult to find. If you live in the northern half of Australia, you will probably have seen them. The challenge is finding crabs that are big enough to comply with the local regulations. In Queensland, you can only take out male mud crabs over 15cm in length across the back (at the time of writing this). Before you head out to set pots and catch mud crabs, check with your local authority to see what your local regulations are.
Although mud crabs are usually nocturnal, you can often find them on the run during a shifting tide. If I am crabbing with the kids, I try and time it late in the day, around dusk, when the tide is running in. Set your pots with the entrance aligned with the current, and you should get the crabs coming in.
If you have a bit more flexibility, getting the incoming tide after dark or before sunrise will yield the most bucks (male mud crabs). They hunt at night, so leave your pots out on a Saturday night and you should have a potful by Sunday morning.
In Queensland, the best time to get bucks is in the winter. In the summer, the jennies (females) have just mated and are eating for them and their offspring. During these months they’ll be scrambling to eat your bait, but they aren’t a lot of use. In the winter, however, the females leave the estuaries and rivers to hatch their offspring, leaving just the males to climb into your pots.
Setting your pots either side of a full moon will also pay dividends when it comes to crabbing. The tide is at its strongest during a full moon. This brings more crabs in on the tide, but could also lead to you losing more pots. Just make sure they are well weighed down with a rock or brick to stop them getting lost in the high tide.
WHERE TO LOOK
I like to set my pots on the outside of river bends. Crabs don’t like to look hard for their food. The incoming tide will bring plenty of food into the river system, which gets caught on the bend, giving the bucks a constant supply of food. Set your pots on the bend, in the deepest sections, and you’ll be putting it right where the crabs are looking for food.
HOW LONG TO LEAVE IT
Two hours is usually enough to get some interest. I usually leave the pots for an hour or so without disturbing it, then check back every half an hour after that.
Mud crabs are lazy, but picky. They won’t take anything stale, so whatever you are using for bait, make sure it is fresh.
I usually swing by the supermarket and pick up some chicken drumsticks, these work a treat. I have a lot of fisho mates who like to use fresh cuts of fish flesh. Pilchards should also do the trick as mud crabs like to take oily fish.
Whichever bait you use, make sure you have a pot with a good bait box. Cheaper models often lack effective bait boxes, letting fish and crabs get to the bait and nibble at it. A good crab pot should have a sturdy wire bait box that will release the bait’s smell, and even berley, but won’t let the critters nibble at it until there is nothing left.
Follow these guidelines to fill your pots every time out. Bring the kids, and make a day of it before returning home to devour the spoils!
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