Grab a crab
  |  First Published: December 2004

The onset of hot weather sees the highly prized mud crabs and sand crabs coming on in greater numbers. Crabbing can be a lot of fun for the whole family, giving junior anglers an insight into some of the other facets of fishing.


Getting set up for crabbing is a relatively cheap exercise. All you need are a few pots, tags and zip ties.


There are various styles of crab pots available, including dillies, circular, rectangular, collapsible and non-collapsible pots. Pots are made of net or wire, and are available from most tackle outlets for around $25 or so. When targeting mud crabs, I have found that circular netted pots produce a better result than rectangular pots do. Round collapsible pots are easier to transport and manage, both in the boat and car.

These days many anglers are turning to the new innovative designs of collapsible pots, such as those produced from the guys at Crab’N Gear at Kippa Ring. However, when chasing the ever-elusive sand crab in the bay, you’re best bet is using dillies. Dillies are a simpler form of a crab pot – just a circular gal ring with netting tied to it – and they’re very good for scoring a feed of crabs in a short amount of time. The average time for leaving dillies is around 20 to 40 minutes.

Dillies work better out of strong currents and are particularly effective in small creek mouths, deep holes close to the bank and in other areas where the tidal flow is less than in the deeper channels.

After using your pots, wash them thoroughly with fresh water and leave them to dry. If you do this they will last for years to come.

Floats and tags

When setting up your pots for a day’s crabbing it’s vital that you use the right float. There are a number of styles and sizes currently on the market. Many anglers use old oil bottles and washing detergent bottles, but these sorts of floats tend to become brittle and crack, leaving you minus one pot.

When rigging up pots make sure you have enough rope for the depth that you will be frequenting.

Lastly, the law states that all crab pot floats must be clearly labelled with your name, address and/or boat rego number. Labelled floats also prevent nasty encounters with other fishos accusing you of stealing their pots.


All crabbers have their own theories about what factors increase your chances of catching crabs – variables such as depth, water temperature, tide and so on. However, one thing you can be sure about is the importance of having the right bait.

This subject also raises a great deal of debate, with everyone having their own ‘secret’ formula. Personally, I have found that fresh fish frames are the best, particularly whiting frames. Although this bait is relatively hard to come by, the results are second to none. Another bait which yields good results is fresh mullet, available from almost all bait and tackle shops and seafood shops.

When chasing muddies, I have found that large portions of bait work best. Larger baits give off a stronger aroma, and the crab is more inclined to hang around the pot, trying to get its claws into a nice, big succulent fillet.


Crabbing in the Brisbane region can be very rewarding, and with the water temperature rising both the muddies and sandies are firing. Over the past month there have been good hauls of big bucks from around the mouth of the Brisbane River, and Donnybrook is currently producing some exceptional sand crabs in the deeper channels surrounding Gallagher Point. Both these locations are relatively short drives from Brisbane and make for a good day’s outing.

Crabbing is fun for the whole family, not to mention a top notch feed with minimal effort, so get out there and give it a go.

Till next month, good fishing to all you junior anglers out there.



CrabLegal size (carapace)Possession limit
Blue swimmer (sand)11.5 minno limit (males only)
Mud15 min10 (males only)
Spanner10 min20 (males and non-berried females only)



Dylan Hasrouny (12) from Kunghur

Hugh Raeburn (11) from Bakewell

Joel Frizell (11) from Narangbah


1) How’s that for a muddy!

2) Some of the different kinds of crab pots on the market.

3) A prime crabbing location. Time to grab a crab!

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