Australian freshwater crayfish often referred to as Yabbies are found in various freshwater systems throughout Australia. Lakes, Rivers, creeks, and especially private dams house these guys.
In Victoria and New South Wales, Yabbies are more common in comparison to other states. Leading towards the end of the year as the weather warms up, Yabbies can be caught a lot more frequently.
These freshwater crayfish provide good quality meals especially when it comes to camp feeds. However, being a native species and sharing the same waterways as Platypus and other protected freshwater crayfish. Yabbies have catching regulations and requirements we all must abide by.
Location and the best time of the day
Being a native freshwater species Yabbies can be caught in various waterways in Victoria including public rivers, creeks, lakes and private dams.
Often overlooked private dams produce some of the best Yabby populations. If eyeing out a private Dam please do ask the owners permission prior to throwing in a line or net.
Yabbies are scavengers and can be caught throughout the day however the best time to catch these guys is at dusk prior to last light. From experience these times have produced Yabbies in numbers.
What equipment do I need to catch yabbies
Yabbying is as simple as crabbing and often the only equipment required is either a ‘hoop net’ or an ‘open-top lift net’. Both these nets work well and meet regulations. However, check the VFA website for an in-depth guide as to how many and sizing limitations for each net in regards to the location.
Since 1st of July 2019 Opera house nets have also been prohibited from private dams let alone public waterways. This is due to posing a danger to local wildlife Platypus populations as they can become underwater death traps for air-breathing animals.
If choosing to use any of the nets below ensure your full name and address is written on a float attached to the net.
As Yabbies are scavengers these guys will often take various baits. I’ve found what works best is Whole pilchards as they provide a strong scent trail but these can get quite expensive. Though Yabbies aren’t very fussy as some anglers have caught them using meats, fish heads, fish frames, dough balls, and surprisingly dog and cat food.
How to handle and keep Yabbies fresh
After hauling in your net it’s best to grab the Yabby from the back of the body behind the claws. This way your keeping your fingers away and preventing any nips.
The best way to keep Yabbies fresh and dispatch humanely is to place these guys into an ice slurry in an esky. This slowly puts them to sleep and keeps the meat fresh til its time cook them.
Regulations and restrictions on Yabbies
Within Victorian waterways, Yabbies don’t have minimum size limits however a bag and possession limit is in place. Always check local regulations prior to yabbying. As Yabbies do share the same waterways as Platypus and other protected freshwater crayfish some nets are prohibited.
As always practice safe yabby handling methods and be respectful of the waterways. Dispose of any waste appropriately in bins or take home and dispose of. If we all do our part, we can keep catching these guys well into the future.