How To Catch Mud Crabs
This is a quick guide on how to catch Mud Crabs. Please remember this is only what has worked for us in our area. There are many ways to catch Mud Crab in different areas.
How to catch Mud Crabs
What are Mud Crabs
Mud crabs are prized by recreational fishers for their impressive size and delicious taste. Their powerful claws can be dangerous and mud crabs need to be handled with care. Females are often called ‘jennies’ and males, ‘bucks’. Please make sure that females are returned to the water to make many more mud crabs for the future.
In Western Australia there are two species of mud crab. the green mud crab and the brown mud crab.The minimum size you’re allowed to keep differs. For this reason, fishers need to be able to tell them apart. Green mud crabs have a larger size limit because they mature at a larger size. Although similar in appearance, there are some key differences. See the photo to the right. The Crab in the front is a Green Mud Crab and the crabs behind are Brown Mud Crabs.
Where do Mud Crabs Live
Although most people believe Mud crabs generally favour soft muddy bottoms they can also be found in sandy and rocky areas, usually below the low tide level. Generally in sheltered estuaries, mud flats, Creeks and mangrove forests. Set your pots around creek outlets, tidal drains and close to mangroves. For best results in deeper areas that always hold water. (Tip scout out an area on the lowest tide and find the places that hold water and are the deepest. Mark these spots for your next Muddy mission.)
When is the best time to catch Mud Crabs?
They can be caught all year round but we prefer to go crabbing between December and June. During larger tides is preferred because the scent of the bait will travel further and bring in more crabs. Just be careful not to place pots in fast running water you might come back and your pot will be tangled in the mangroves.
Full or Empty?
Crabs will shed their shell as they grow larger. They will then produce a new larger shell to grow in to. This new shell will be extremely soft to start off with and harden as time goes on. This means even if the crab is large it might not have much meat inside. This is why it is very important to know if a crab is full or empty. There are a number of ways to determine this, the colour of the crabs belly is a good indicator. If the shell is white and clean it is likely an empty crab. If the shell has brown colouring to it will be full and is known as a rusty crab. Another good way to determine how full a crab is is by doing the pinch test. This is done by pinching the side of the crabs shell, if you there is any give or movement the crab is empty. If you notice that a crab is empty it is not worth taking and is better released and caught again in a few weeks when it is full.
How to catch Mud Crabs
Crabs are caught using a baited drop net or by hooking them out of their holes (check your local Rules for hooking). The most common types of drop nets are round open pots and closed pots. Again check our local fisheries rules and regulations for what type of drop nets are allowed to be use in your area. A common mistake a lot of people make is dropping their pots on submerged branches, steep banks or rocks. This will stop the crabs from entering the pot and most of the time eat you’re bait from the under side of the pot. So make sure that you drop your pots in a flat area.
Mud Crab Bait
A lot of people will say the best bait is anything that stinks and is old and rotten. This is not true, you might get lucky if you use this sort of bait but the truth is fresh bait is always best. We only use fresh fish frames in your pots so i would recommend that. But if you cannot get these or haven’t caught any fish for a while raw chicken or lamb works also.
Caring for your catch
Mud crabs are best tied up then stored in a wet hashen bag until you are ready to cook them. Before cooking them we place them in the freezer or on ice for about 30 minutes this will make the crabs fall asleep. Once they are asleep they can then be cooked.
Some might say Mud crabs are one of the tastiest treats the ocean provides. This is why it is very important to only take what you need and observe the rules and regulations for your area. We encourage everyone to get out and get a few crabs for a feed but at the same time respect the size and bag limits. Check out Our Muddy Mission Fishing shirt for your next trip.