Mud Crab

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Malcolm Douglas
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Following a busy week, I spent last Friday evening at a new camping location on a river at the South Coast in NSW. The plan was to spend the evening fishing for jew fish (Mulloway) as well as having a smaller rod out for a flathead or a bream. I am yet to catch a jew fish and my quest will continue however I did have great expectations due to there being no moon and that I was fishing in a spot that I know they frequent. a fair few smaller bream and snapper were caught and one keeper bream.

I was using fresh prawns for bait (definitely better than the frozen tweed variety IMO) and, as I usually do, I disguarded the heads of the prawns in the water for burley. At about 11pm that night, I saw what I thought to be a ball of sea weed that had drifted in to about 2 meters of the waterline. A quick flash from my maglight in fact confirmed that it was a mud crab that had taken an interest in the prawn heads.

There were about 5 campers close by, all french and german backpackers, who had taken an interest in my fishing (and the fact that I was willing to share my beers). I asked one to hold the torch while I waded in behind the crab slowly and, with a couple of quick movements, had most of the crab in the landing net. I say most, because it was too big to fit in the net entirely. The water was about knee deep and, by coming in from behind the crab, I feel like I caught it relatively off guard. The big male measured 17 cm across the carapace from front to back and quickly had a cold bath in an ice/salt water slurry. It weighed roughly 1.6 kilos after removing the carapace and the insides.

The following morning, upon returning home, I cleaned and boiled it and spent the afternoon feasting! This experience was entirely new for me having never seen a muddie in the wild before. I quartered the crab and boiled it in salt water. I played with the timing and boiled the parts for approximately 10 minutes. I think the cooking time is a learnt skill as it is impossible to know how the flesh is inside the shell and the times will vary greatly depending on the size of the crab. That said, the meat on mine was pretty good. It was a great learning experience.

Is it right to believe that the larger ones are the best breeders? I am told that the muddies do not breed this far south and so I made the decision to keep the catch for myself. There was another camper who, when I told him of my catch responded by saying "oh yeah, happens all the time to me". Is this a common taking method? FWIW, I recall the NSW fisheries guide has no restrictions on hand catching most animals and I understand my catch was a legal take.

Pics to follow of the track leading into camp, and two of the crab (cat and ball for scale.
Muddie 2.jpgMuddie 1.jpgMuddie 3.jpg
 

Walker

John McDouall Stuart
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Nice catch!!

Not a common way to catch em these days but the best way from a safety perspective since those pincers would easily remove fingers.

Sounds like the other camper was plain jealous.

In NSW there's a bag limit of 5, but taking 5 that size would be unreasonable.

Tip: boil the crab whole then clean it, it'll retain more flavour and be less mushy.

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Malcolm Douglas
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Thanks for the tips Walker. TBH, I didn't have a pot big enough to boil it whole but in the future I will give it a shot. Regarding the sizes, I think that even if i had caught two that size I would have released the other one. The backpackers did not really believe me when I told them that they could remove a finger if they got too close!
 

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Malcolm Douglas
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Caught this big girl two weeks ago. She got released to breed another generation.
Flathead.jpg
 
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