Monday, 8 April 2013

Our week of hoping our pots were still there

Ok, we are reasonably new to this, but I have to say we have thoroughly enjoyed it and I wanted to share some of what we have learned so far.
To be honest we had attempted crabbing in the past, but with little success- once we had a 6 pack of Gold! So the one time we caught something, obviously worth catching, some else checked them!
After our move to Maes-y-Delyn we bought a little boat. We had owned a boat prior to moving here, but it would have been far too big for using in the creeks. So 'Fred & Barney' has been an awesome investment.
To be honest I am not the best or most patient of fisherman and I do suffer with seasickness. So creek fishing is ideal for me... and crabbing is even better!
Crab's apparently only move in months with an 'R'- now how true this is, we are yet to see. As we have only been doing this for a few months. But it would make sense as these are the cooler months. Also, they apparently feed well after rains, as this introduces fresh water into the system.
Now there are some rules regarding crabbing in Queensland-
Each person is allowed a maximum of 4 pots
You can only take male crabs- the girls 'Jenny's' are to be released. This helps with maintaining future stocks.
Also males have to be over a certain size- we bought a guide from the local tackle store.
Male mud crab
These diagrams shows the how to identify the males and the females. Males have the narrower flap on their underside, females are very obvious when you see them up close.
Also it is true crabs claws are sharp, but more importantly strong, and they do not let go. So we still like to keep; what I consider a healthy fear of them.

Now our pots are basic ones from a local tackle shop- there are other varieties out there and I have seen a few home made versions. Ours are relatively inexpensive. Each pot is supposed to be identifiable- as I mentioned you are only allowed 4 per person, so each is supposed to have your name and address on it. This is not always practical, as ink tends to fade in water (even permanent, eventually) and labels can fall (or be taken off). 
You also need to secure your bait inside the pot. This can be a clip, or mesh bag; and for bait you want fish heads (which you can buy especially) or frames from fish catches. We have also used frames from our chickens too.- So nothing goes to waste.

So as it was March/April- both have an R and we have had (hopefully the last of) the rain. We checked the tide times and headed out.
Now to increase the chances of catching you want to leave your pots out through a whole tide cycle. Although I know many fisherman that if they are fishing, will drop a few pots in at the same time and pull them in before leaving... guess you have to be in it to win it, so always worth a go.
But as we are heading out just for crabs we tend to put them out on the high tide on one day and collect them on the second. This makes navigating the creeks easier... Or at least that's the theory!
As we are still new to this, we learned a valuable lesson on the weekend. We placed the pots out on Saturday and when we returned at high tide on Sunday, we couldn't get through to the furthest 4. And neither of us fancied swimming or wading, as if we're realistic there could be crocs amongst other things in the creeks.
Now there was only supposed to be a difference of 400mm in the high tides between Saturday and Sunday... But lesson learned, anything predicted below 5.5meters we would probably not make it through to our far spots... Also the tide turned so fast on Saturday, we were worried we may not make it back at all, if we wasted too much time.
So we collected the nearer four and headed home. This was upsetting as we had a few good crabs in the nearer ones, and knew there was a good chance of some being in the others. Just had to hope they didn't die or the pots taken before we could get back there.
Problem was it was this Saturday before we could get back out- as we had work, and either the evening tides were still too low or the day tides we were at work.  But gratefully we found all our pots! Granted there was nothing in them, and I was more relieved at this, as the prospect of finding something dead was not pleasant. So as the tides were larger this weekend, and reasonably timed we baited them and set them back out.
So yesterday we collected 7 of our 8- we lost one (after finding the other 4 after almost a week- we lost one!) but we did bring home 3 good sized crabs (and released many more smaller ones- so there's more for the future.)

Now we (or should I say he) ties our crabs up- there is a way of doing this (to which we are still learning), without (or to minimise) the chances of you getting pinched. I will film this one day and go through a step by step process. But at the moment, we are both reasonably new to this and I am not keen to push our luck- we are maintaining a healthy respect for these animals- as their pinch can and will do severe damage!
Once tied and transported home, we freeze ours. Though I do know there are other methods of dispatching of them, this we have found to be rather effective.