HAVE A CRABBING ADVENTURE
Blue swimmer crabs are native to Mandurah, and the area is renowned for its excellent crabbing. As the weather warms up for summer, crabbing season opens on 1 December. By January the Peel Inlet-Harvey Estuary is swimming with full size crabs ready to be caught.
Crabbing is of economic and social importance to the region, which was recognised in 2016 when the local recreational and commercial fishery was the first in the world to be jointly certified for its ecological sustainable fishing.
How to catch crabs
The most popular way to catch crabs is walking through the shallow waters and scooping the crabs with a metal basket on the end of a broom handle.
Another is using drop nets from a jetty, bridge or boat. With this method, you bait the net, drop it in the water, wait 10 minutes and then pull it up, where hopefully it will have legal sized crabs within.
The third method is to goggle and snorkel dive with a glove on your hand and grab the crab.
Mandurah Boat and Bike Hire offer boat and crabbing equipment hire. They will also provide bait and advice on what to do and where to go.
Whichever method you use, make sure you are careful handling them.
Things to know
Despite the name, blue swimmer crabs’ colours can be anything from brown to purple, with flat bodies and long slender claws and can be found in sandy, muddy and seaweed covered areas.
Those that are the brilliant blue look magnificent out of the water and in the sunlight.
You don’t need a license to catch crabs, however there are size and bag limit regulations and if you are on a boat you will need a ‘fishing from boat’ licence.
A crab size guide is available for $2.20 from the Mandurah Visitor Centre during crabbing season.
- Make sure you check Department of Fisheries before you crab, as regulations are regularly updated.
- Follow Crabbing and Fishing in Mandurah on Facebook to stay up to date with secret spots and updates during the season.
- Download the RecFishWest App to have up to date fishing rules in the palm of your hand.
You’re more likely to catch full size crabs in January, and early morning and evening are the best times, when crabs come into the shallows. Our tips for some good places to go crabbing are:
- Mandjar Bay
- Mandurah Estuary
- The Peel Inlet-Harvey Estuary by Boundary Island
- Sticks Channel
- Mandurah Estuary Bridge
- Dawesville Cut
Our Tip: ask at the Mandurah Visitor Centre before heading out if there are any new good spots this crabbing season.
Please check: Some areas around Mandurah are protected nature reserves and off-limits for crabbing all year around. Look out for signs before you start crabbing to make sure it is an approved area.
How to Clean & Prepare a Blue Manna Crab
It’s best to cook crabs a few hours after they’ve been caught, as they usually die quickly. Bring crabs to the boil in salted water, then simmer for 5-6 minutes (longer for more crabs). Once cooked, place in cool water. Serve with bread, lemon, vinegar or seafood sauce.
1. Ensure your crabs are dormant by putting them into the freezer for about 20 minutes.
2. Turn the crab over.
3. Pull the triangular flap down.
4. Pull the triangular flap away from the body of the crab.
5. Ensure that the triangular flap and attached underside of the crab are completely removed from the main body of the crab.
6. Remove the grey gills of the crab.
7. Scoop out the insides of the crab.
8. Once you have washed your crab under fresh water it is ready to use.
Catch & Eat Crab Tour
You’ll learn tips and tricks from the pros and get access to the best spots when you explore Mandurah’s water playground on a tour. Mandurah Cruises will take you crabbing on their customised crabbing vessel where you can try your hand at “scooping” for Mandurah’s famous crabs in the shallow waters of the Peel Inlet. They will steam cook the crabs aboard and even throw some crabs on the BBQ.
More Seafood Adventures
Mandurah has plenty of other local, fresh seafood too and here are ways you can experience them.
The Mandurah Estuary is a fantastic place to catch herring, sand whiting, bream, cobbler, tailor or garfish. In season you can fish for salmon and tailor on the beach, and the Dawesville Cut is the best place to catch King George whiting. You can also catch trout and redfin between September and June in Lake Navarino, Waroona. In the Murray River you can fish for black bream, mulloway and whiting. Upstream, the river has been stocked with trout. Fishing gear is available for hire in Mandurah.
Tours & Charters
Learn tips and tricks from the pros and get access to the best spots to catch seafood on a tour. On Mandurah Cruises’ Wild Seafood Adventure, journey out to the Indian Ocean and help haul in crayfish pots, before enjoying the rewards of your labour with a delicious barbecue lunch with local wines, served on board as you cruise the calm estuary waters.
Mandurah Cruises also offer 2 hour, half day and full day fishing charters, providing you fishing lessons so you can cast out for a dhufish, snapper, samson or baldchin groper.
Port Bouvard Charters offer full day fishing charters from Port Bouvard marina for experienced and novice fishers.
Boats and fishing gear can be hired from Mandurah Boat and Bike Hire.
Most restaurants in Mandurah include seafood on their menu. For the best seafood dining experience, visit the award winning Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant.
A long-time favourite of locals and regular visitors to Mandurah is takeaway fish and chips on the Mandurah Eastern Foreshore. You can pick some up from Cicerellos at the northern end orJetty Fish n Burgers at the southern end.
If you want to cook your own, but don’t want to do the catching part, go to Wattie’s Place in Herron for the freshest and best range of seafood available to purchase in Mandurah.
Rules for crabbing in WA
Regulations apply to protect blue swimmer crab breeding stock and safeguard the future of this popular species, ensuring healthy crab stocks for future generations to enjoy.
Crab season: crabs can only be caught from 1 December to 31 August.
Bag limit in the Mandurah area: 10 crabs per person per day. You must not catch crabs for anyone else. A bag limit of 20 crabs per boat per day applies.
Fishing Licence If you use a powered boat to fish for crabs or to reach your fishing location, at least one person on board needs a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL), available for purchase from the Department of Fisheries.
Legal size limit: only crabs of a legal-size limit can be kept. The minimum size limit is 127mm The size of a crab is measured from the tips of its spikes across the widest part of the shell. Measure accurately using a crab gauge available from the Mandurah Visitor Centre and fishing tackle shops.
Immediate release of undersize crabs Keeping undersize crabs or egg-carrying (‘berried’) females is illegal and you could be fined up to $5,000. These crabs must be returned to the water immediately, before attempting to catch another crab.
Approved crabbing gear Crabs must only be caught by hand or using handheld wire or plastic scoop nets, drop nets or handheld blunt wire hooks. There is a maximum limit of 10 drop nets per person or 10 drop nets per boat, regardless of how many people are on board. Diving for crabs is also permitted. Catching crabs by any other method including fishing nets or prawn trawls or dip nets is illegal – any crab caught this way must be released. The use of crab rakes is prohibited.
For full details on crabbing rules in the Mandurah area go to http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/recreational_fishing/additional_fishing_information/crabbing_for_blue_swimmer_crabs_west_coast.pdf