Sand crabs at times can be considered a pest as they’re known to take baits from fishing lines. Well for others and including my self are considered one of the best tasting kinds of seafood.
For me, nothing beats a nice and spicy crab curry cooked well with plenty of flavour. Sand Crabs also aren’t too difficult to catch which makes these guys quite worthwhile putting in the time and effort. Also, crabbing, in general, is low cost and can be done on a tight budget.
But what is the best way to go about catching Sand Crabs? Well for a start we need to locate them before even attempting to catch them.
Location, Tide and the best time of the day
Sand crabs are located in various spots throughout Victoria including estuaries and surf beaches in deep gutters. But a known hot spot for Sand crabs in Victoria is lakes entrance. Located approximately a 4-hour drive from the heart of the Melbourne CBD.
Lakes entrance has various jetties that produce sand crabs and during the holiday season, it gets packed full of anglers coming from various locations. Not only caught from jetties, but Sand Crabs can also be caught out in the open water in the estuaries on a boat.
As the weather warms up a plague of sand crabs can be caught either at dawn or dusk as they are predominantly more active and scavenging for food. Though Sand crabs can be caught during the day I’ve experienced great results at high tide late in the afternoon and throughout the night.
Crabbing in comparison to fishing or even prawning can be quite simple. To get started all you basically need is a hoop net made up of steel hoops and the netting material to be made of natural fibers.
This is my recommendation as a lot of hoop nets become snagged and lost along the bottom of the sea bed. By using steel hoops these can corrode over time and nets made from natural fibers will breakdown.
Restrictions on Hoop nets specify the net must be a maximum diameter of 77cm and drop of 50cm. The net also must be labeled with the anglers full name and address. I recommend using a styrene float to label this on. Restrictions in Victoria allows two hoop nets per a licensed angler.
Keep in mind sand crabs are scavengers and from experience, I’ve found the best baits for sand crabs have been chicken carcasses, fish heads, and fish frames. These all can be securely tied to the bottom of the net before casting out.
When casting your net from the jetty keep in Mind of other anglers and cast further enough away from the jetty itself. If strong currents are present these can carry your net underneath the jetty and a lot of hoop nets have been snagged and lost this way.
Ideally, cast as far away from the jetty during strong currents heading towards you and be mindful of other anglers off their nets and lines.
How to Handle Sand crabs and keep them fresh?
Once you’ve hauled in your nets full of sand crabs these guys can be quite nippy to handle. I recommend investing in some good quality gloves which makes your job 100 times easier. Also, keeps your hands dry and warm throughout the night.
After hauling in your catch make sure to keep the sand crabs in an esky filled with salt water and an ice slurry. This way the sand crabs are killed humanly as they fall asleep and kept fresh until you freeze or prepare them.
Regulations and restrictions for Sand Crabs
Within Victorian waters, Sand crabs don’t have a minimum size limit however a bag limit is in place. Local regulations and restrictions may vary from state to state and it’s highly advised to check regulations and restrictions prior to heading out on to the water.
As always abide by the rules and take enough to eat and so we can all crab well into the future.