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How to Catch Mud Crabs & Crab Fishing

Mud crabs are usually caught with dillies or crab pots. The right to get good results and where you put the pot is the most important part of the mud crab hunt.

Catching and Fishing for Mud Crabs:

Mud crabs are typically caught using dillies, or crab pots, with the latter being the most popular device.
These are available at your local Tackle Shop

Please note that the use of traps made of entanglement material, such as witches’ hat pots and/or suicide dillies, is prohibited. This is to ensure that under size and soft/empty crabs can be released without damage.

illustration of dilly crab trap illustration of crab trap
Dilly Trap Crab Pot

The use of lightweight nylon mesh crab pots has become very popular over the past few years, primarily due to their lower price compared with steel mesh pots. Care must be taken in selecting appropriate places to set nylon pots, because they tend to move if left in strong currents. Hence, they should only be set in eddies or wherever the current is slow.

Steel crab pots remain popular. These pots are typically made from light gauge weld-mesh with plastic mesh entrance funnels on two sides. The mesh can withstand the pressure of the largest crab claw and the weight of the pot reduces the likelihood of movement in strong currents. A pot around 70 cm long, 60 cm wide and 25 cm high is easy to handle and transport, and is big enough to catch several crabs. Other fishing gear used to catch mud crabs includes spears and burrow hooks. Take care when using either. Spears may kill the crab (be it legal size, under size, empty/soft shelled or berried) and hooks can damage the burrow and/or the crab.

When not attached to a fixed object (for example tied to a tree above the high water mark), all crab apparatus must have a light coloured surface float attached. You must have your name and address on both the pot and float.  When tied to a fixed object, a tag must also be attached to part of the rope that is above the high water mark. The tag must be marked clearly with the owner's name.

Bait to use to Catch Mud Crabs
The correct bait is essential if you want to get good results. Some people insist that crabs prefer smelly, rotting bait; but this is not true. Use fresh, quality bait and replace it often to ensure better catch rates. Proven bait includes beef, kangaroo and fresh fish, particularly firm-fleshed species such as catfish, fish frames or heads, chicken carcass, chicken necks or feet but Mullet is by far the best bait for Mud crabs.


live mud crabs, mud crab claws, mangrove crab, aggressive crab, green crab, Scylla serrata


Where to place your Crab Pots or Traps:
Mud crabs are abundant in a wide range of aquatic habitats, ranging from the upper reaches of estuaries to coastal mud flats and trenches. Most estuarine areas fringed with mangroves and/or mud flats will contain mud crabs.

Where you put the pot is the most important part of the mud crab hunt. During heavy rain, or 'the wet' in the tropics, the rivers are high and fresh and crabs, like most other fish, can not survive in fresh-water, so they move out along the shallow coastal flats. That's where you put your pots at that time of the year.

But during the dry as the salt water intrudes way up the rivers and creeks you follow this salt water intrusion.

Also drop your pots in very small creeks and deep gutters as crabs use these as highways into the mangroves.

Remembering for a set pot to make sure that the openings are facing the current.

Check your pots on each turn of tide, checking every half hour or so is best.  Replace the bait to make sure it is fresh.

Check with your local fisheries department for bag limits and minimum sizes.

All females are protected in Queensland

Male and female crab identification

crab sex, illustration showing the difference between male and female crabs

How to pick up Mud crabs: Pick them up with your thumb and index finger. Hold together the base of the back two swimmer legs and lift the crab up. That way it can't bite you


Don't take home a crab that has recently moulted their shell if you want a lot of meat! For a Meaty crab choose one that has a shell with maybe some scaring or algae growth, blunt teeth on their claws and if you gently press the shell, there should be no movement.


See Also:
Mud Crab Photos & Information
Catching Mud Crabs
Cooking Mud Crab and Crab Recipes
Mud Crab (Scylla serrata) Commercial Fisheries
Mud Crab Pictures & Photos


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