Samsonvale redclaw
  |  First Published: December 2004

Lake Samsonvale’s annual winter run of large bass is coming to an end, but there are still many smaller fish being caught on live shrimp, deep running lures and soft plastics. Jackall crankbaits in lighter colours have been particularly successful. A few yellowbelly and silver perch are being taken and catches of these should increase throughout summer.

Redclaw crayfish are abundant at the moment, and this looks set to continue for some time. Here are some tips for those new to ‘redclawing’.


‘Opera house’ pots are available for less than $5 at most tackle stores, and with some minor modifications you can increase your catch rate. Redclaw feed at night and tend to walk back out of the pots before daybreak, so replace the inlet ring with a smaller diameter ring to make it harder for the redclaw to push back out. It may prevent some larger specimens from getting in but will still allow reasonable size crayfish to enter.

Also, tie a flexible ‘funnel’ (made from netting, flyscreen mesh, fabric, etc) to the inlet ring. This allows the redclaw to push their way into the pot, but they find it difficult to find their way back out with no rigid inlet to assist them.

Also replace the baitholders that come with the pots. Redclaw can demolish anything flimsy. You can buy crab pot baitholders from a tackle store, or just make your own from wire or plastic mesh (I use leaf-guard mesh, available from hardware stores).

Be sure to check current regulations by visiting www.dpi.qld.gov.au/fishweb or picking up an information leaflet from your local tackle store.


Common redclaw baits include fish frames, chicken frames, half-cooked potatoes, rockmelon, dog and cat biscuits and pilchards. Redclaw are supposedly vegetarians, so the variety is endless. Whatever you use, replenish baits regularly.


Remove the head of the crayfish, grab the middle fin or the whole tail between your thumb and forefinger and give this a twist backward and forward. You can then withdraw the tail complete with the gut (bloodline) which eliminates the need to clean this out later.

Redclaw have a hard outer shell and the raw flesh can be difficult to remove in one piece. For BBQs, simply cut the body into halves with a large knife or cleaver, give a quick rinse, and into the fridge or freezer (redclaw freeze well). For dishes where you want to remove the shell, bring a pot of water to the boil and drop the crayfish in. Leave for a minute or so, just until the shells start to change colour, and then drop them into a sink full of cold water. When cool, remove the meat by taking a small knife, cutting down one side of the soft underbelly, and peeling away the shell. You can then remove the meat in one piece.


Anything you can do with prawns, crays or lobsters applies to these little babes. Here is my favourite recipe. It’s similar to a risotto, with an Asian twist.


Enough redclaw meat for the mob you have to feed

Cooking oil

Favourite spices such as garlic or chilli

Onion, finely diced (half per person)

Packet of risotto or spiced rice (I like the Continental Asian Rice series)

Chicken or fish stock (1 cup does 2 people)


• Marinate the redclaw in your favourite spice before cooking. A sweet marinade is best, such as sweet chilli sauce or something with honey.

• Heat some oil in a pan or wok, and drop in the onion. Cook until starting to brown, adding extra flavouring such as a pinch of garlic. Be careful not to overdo it, as the marinade and the spiced rice will add sufficient flavour.

• Add the rice and cook for a short period before adding the stock. Cover the pan or wok with a lid, and allow to simmer and reduce for 10 to 15 mins.

• When the brew has reduced to a desired consistency, add the redclaw, cover, and cook for 5-7 mins on a medium heat.

You can serve this dish on its own or add some salad. Either way, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the taste.

Samsonvale boating access

Boating access to Lake Samsonvale is available via a permit system run by the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association (PRFMA). Applications for permits can be obtained from bait and tackle stores, by contacting the PRFMA on 0417 7420 23, sending an email to --e-mail address hidden-- or visiting prfma.tripod.com.


1) Lake Samsonvale is home to a big population of delicious redclaw.

2) An opera house pot modified and ready for use.

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