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Blue swimmer crabs are a delicious capture. They live in both open water and up rivers.
In and around Perth, they can be found in the Swan river, Cockburn sound and Mandurah.
The key to finding these crabs is working closely with the weather and water temperatures.
In the colder months, the crabs generally hang out in deeper water and are a lot slower to react to feeding. As the water warms up, they move into shallower water and a far more aggressive.
Bait is a key factor for success, so don’t go out without a good variety. You can use anything from fish frames to spleen.
Around the Swan try Blackwall Reach to start with. The water can be pretty deep in areas and it’s recommended you put a lot of extra line on your nets. A good rule of thumb is 1.5x more than the depth. So if the water is 20m, get 30m of line. This way you don’t risk losing nets or having them not lay flat on the bottom. You don’t need to leave the nets down for long as the crabs aren’t restrained and can move on if something else takes their interest. If you are running 10 drop nets, it’s not a bad idea to check them one after another and go back to the first once you’ve checked the last.
Once the water starts to warm up, you should try some shallower sections of the river. The edges of the channels are a good start and can be very productive. The water is often no deeper than 6m, so you will need to make sure you haven’t got too much line as its very easy to get tangles or have somebody run over it by accident.
There a few ways to catch crabs, from drop nets, scoops and even simply diving for them and grabbing them by hand (with a glove on). A drop net is often the most productive and allows you to catch crabs from piers, jetties and of course boats. You can also leave them in the water for a some time to soak and attract crabs from outside the immediate area.
Dropping pots can seem very straight forward, and it can be. But if you are seeing others catching crabs and aren’t having much luck, have a look at your pulling technique. This is often overlooked but can play a massive role on you success rates. There is nothing keeping a crab from swimming out unless the net walls are up. So make sure you swiftly pull the line to get the walls up and block that tasty crab from getting out. Keep steady pressure on the line and try to avoid dragging the net sideways. To get this right there is a bit of coordination required between the net puller and the skipper. But practice makes perfect.
Also have a think about where you’re dropping the nets, the depths, whether its on flat ground or near a ledge. We often cover a lot of ground to find somewhere productive and then put all our nets in the one area. This way you can keep track of your gear and minimise loosing nets or having people run over them or mistake them for their own.
Good luck out there and have fun.