Crabbing for Kids
  |  First Published: December 2008

This month I will be talking about some of the basics required for crabbing. DPI&F has now lifted the age requirement for kids to use crab pots, however, it does specify that the child must be able to place and remove the pot on their own.

It is important to take a lot of care when crabbing so that you don’t lose your pot, or get it stolen, because good pots are very expensive, around $40 each, and your parents will not be happy if they have to replace them. You must have your name and address on both the pot and float. We also put our phone number on them in case it drifts away and if someone finds it they will be able to call you.

To stop it from drifting away, we often put a brick in the bottom and always keep it out of channels with strong currents; this also stops it from getting run over. Another method is to cable tie some chain around the bottom of the pot.

When you go crabbing we find that mullet is the best bait. Don’t use under size fish as this is illegal. It is best to keep you pots away from other people’s pots and spread them out about 50m apart. You are also not allowed to put them in green zones and you are only allowed to keep ten mud crabs in your possession.

When you have waited for a few hours you can check your pots. It is a good idea to make some space on the deck and have two fish bins ready to put them in and a crab measurer ready to measure them. Once you have managed to get the crabs in the crab bin and you have sorted out the keepers from the throwbacks, you need to put another fish bin over the top of it or put wet rags over them, this is so they will settle down and don’t hurt the other crabs.

You can usually tell if a crab is empty by feeling the flippers on sandies, but this is not always the case with muddies. When empty, muddies usually go a greeny colour, and even though they may look large they might not have much meat in them. It is best to let an empty crab go and then you may catch it another time when it is full.

You can also tell if your mud crab is full if their claws have been ground down because this means they have been chewing on oysters. And a full mud crab is also usually brown underneath.

The best way to cook a mud crab is to throw it in the freezer for about an hour before placing it in boiling saltwater. This stops them from throwing their claws and legs. Boil mud crabs for about 12-14 minutes and sand crabs for 7 minutes. As soon as they are cooked, throw them in cool seawater for a while before putting them in the fridge. We bring some seawater home with us in buckets and cook and cool the crabs in that so they don’t need to go near fresh water.

We want everyone to learn the rules and act sensibly when crabbing so we all can enjoy it.

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