Crabbing - a day out with a tasty reward.

Monday, 14th Feb 2011 by John Pedler

Blue swimmer crabs are delicious. Evolution knows this and has equipped them with tough shells, outrageous pincers and a ‘you want a piece of me’ attitude. Brussel sprouts, on the other hand, are harmless and can’t run very fast.

But despite their array of defences the crab is only a 50:50 bet against a $17 crab rake. You’ll also need covered footwear, a buoyant container to tow behind you, a crab measure – available from tackle shops - plus all the other accessories required for a day at the beach. Remember, you’ll be looking down a lot so be sure to keep the back of your neck protected from the sun.

The tidal flats north of Adelaide - between St Kilda and Port Parham - are popular crabbing spots. Be prepared to walk some distance because in these parts when the tide goes out, it seems to have gone to South America. I think low tide is best but others will say follow the tide in, while still others will say go to the fish market and save yourself a lot of driving and walking. Whatever time you choose, be aware that the tide runs like a river, so if you drop your sunscreen it could be in Peru by dusk.

You shouldn’t need to go much deeper than knee level. I’ve had the most success in the bare, sandy patches among the sea grass or on the sides of the channels which carry the water in and out. If the water’s perfectly still you may see eye stalks, but generally it’s the sudden chaos under the rake that tells you it’s on. And remember, crabs believe attack is the best defence so it’s a good idea to take the family. Then, when a bluey launches a charge, people will think it’s the kids shrieking.

For more information on blue swimmer crabs visit the PIRSA website.
To read, "Crabbing, Part 2 - Drop nets on Yorkes", click here

replied 2430 days ago 
I haven't been crabbing myself but my husband has told me how much fun it is and how great it will be to catch them again using the rake down at the beach. He also mentioned wearing a pair of old sneakers is good idea. He enjoyed watching them cartwheels around - which was cool to watch.
replied 2430 days ago 
Great Story John! Recently my family stayed at the Yorke's and whilst trying to catch a double header, I managed to get my line tangled! During this time a Blue Swimmer hooked on. It must have been about 10 minutes and we had just decided to pull the line in by hand adding another 5! What a patient crab, turns out my husband hadn't done much crab catching and in return nearly lost his hand in the bucket - thought he could wash his hands!!!!! Great story and I'm sure to travel to St. Kilda with my family....Thanks!!
replied 2429 days ago 
Crabbing at Ardrossan is something we have done many times. My daughter recently returned from living in London for the last 3 1/2 year and one of the first things she said was "when are we going crabbing", so as you can see it is a family favourite pastime.
replied 2428 days ago 
I love crabbing and cant wait for my next trip to Ardrossan
replied 2428 days ago 
I often go Crabbing at Port Parham and agree that you really do not need to go out past knee deep. When we were quite little our parents would pop us inside a tub that was inserted into an old car tyre tube that was tied to their waist. We had a lot of fun floating behind them as they crabbed.They usually had a second one that was for the crabs. They just had to remember which tub was for the crabs and which was full of kids :)
John Pedler
replied 2425 days ago 
Hi Desi. Washing his hands in the crab bucket - hilarious! I too have been crabbing with a newbie - picked up the first crab from the front and then stepped on something which punched through his thin footwear into his foot. Needless to say the time we spent in casuality really reduced our crabbing time. John
Lynton Pope
replied 2424 days ago 
I well remember "lost' days at Thompsons years ago. After travelling from the South on a warm day only to find a North wind kicking when we arrived thus reducing visibilty in the water.The answer was to get a "volunteer " to remove his sandshoes , swish his feet around in the sand and wait for a bite.A quick strike with the rake and , if luck was running, a bluey for the pot.Of course other things could " bite" like the old faithfull Razor fish . I also remember crabbing ( and having the odd beer) at Point Lowly while away on Army bivouc. The North has it's Muddies but the Bluey is right up ther for flavour!
replied 2424 days ago 
Useful bit of info. I went crabbing once as a teenager and remember it was quite exciting. Easy to get sunburnt as you say. I was interested to see the locations you mentioned, quite useful. Thanks, Paul.
replied 2423 days ago 
replied 2423 days ago 
Yep,the blue swimmer crabs are really delicious.I like go fishing and crabbing with my friends by self-driving.I can enjoy the sunshine and fun with friends.Whilst I'm driving,I can enjoy the freedom, wind,sunshine and safety coz I'm a RAA member and do not need to worry about my car.With my lovely car, I can go to anywhere to go crabbing.Even though sometimes the wind is strong but when you taste the crabs,you will feel all the hard work is worth.We usually see the tide from the newspaper or online and then try to catch up with the suitable timing.It's really exciting trip for crabbing.If you try,you never can forget that fantastic crabbing trip.
christine ronald
replied 2417 days ago swimmer catching is a WIN,WIN,WIN,day out...the human nippers just love to chase them spreading salty water everywhere thats a win for them...for the elder humans it is a wonderful family get to-gether and that is a big win for us...just how does it get any better teaching the young bloods how to cook/season/break open/eat those excellent tasting crusty blues...THERE IS ANOTHER WINNER...THANK YOU FOR SUGGESTING THIS TOPIC...regards...r/c.
replied 2416 days ago 
Haven't been crabbing since I was a boy. Am inspired to head out again with my own boys.
replied 2416 days ago 
Is it still the case that all female blue swimmer crabs must be returned to the sea? I have seen many a female bluey (and undersize males) sitting in buckets on the many jetties in Adelaide in recent weeks. I am a regular and frequent jetty visitor on my walks and haven't seen a fisheries officer in the metro area for more than 10 years! I think people in general need to be better educated because they still don't seem to want to abide by the size limits.....
replied 2416 days ago 
Ever tried crabbing at night.get a wooden stake , string, and a squid head. At night go out and stake out the squid head in a suitable area (watch tides)with a glow stick taped to the top of the stake(so you can find it in the dark)give it 15-20 minutes and go out with a prawn light and spot the general area towards the baited area. You will be amazed on how many extra crabs you will rake.Great fun if you are camping at a crabbing spot.
John Pedler
replied 2415 days ago 
Hi Gamma Q. It's ok to catch female blue swimmers as long as they're of legal size and aren't carrying eggs. Here's a quote from the PIRSA website. "Females with external eggs are totally protected and must be returned to the water immediately." Cheers, John
replied 2414 days ago 
Don't try to use your 4WD to drive closer to the ocean - walk it's a part of the outing, because if it gets stuck like my friends, then you are in for a long crabless day.
replied 2413 days ago 
What a great idea.
replied 2409 days ago 
Marj. Love crabbing with the family. Nothing better than home cooked crabs and a cold beer.
John Pedler
replied 2408 days ago 
Marj, couldn't agree more. John
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