The Definitive Guide On How to Catch Crayfish

Author: Sea Renity Marine Boat Accessories Perth  


Embark on a journey into the thrilling world of crayfishing along the bountiful coasts of Western Australia. Here, the ocean teems with the sought-after spiny lobster family, fondly dubbed "crayfish" or "crays". This guide integrates the essentials of crayfishing, from identification to catching techniques, and from culinary delights to conservation practises. Dive in for an insightful read that promises to enhance your crayfishing experiences.

Table of Contents

Crayfish at a Glance: Distinguishing the Species

Crayfish, often mistaken for lobsters, differ mainly in their habitat; crayfish are freshwater dwellers, whereas lobsters are found in saltwater. In Western Australia, the Western Rock Lobster is commonly referred to as "crays," although this is technically incorrect. Nevertheless, the term has been ingrained in local culture.

In Western Australia, crayfishing isn't just a pastime; it's a substantial economic pillar, contributing around 20% to the fishing industry, amounting to an estimated value of $400 million.

Types of Crayfish: Identifying Your Catch

Western Australia is home to a rich diversity of crayfish species, but the western rock lobster and southern rock lobster are particularly notable.

1. Western Rock Lobster:

Distinguished by two prominent horns on its forehead, this species flaunts a red or brown exoskeleton with a characteristic white dot on its tail's lateral edge.

2. Southern Rock Lobster:

also referred to as the red rock lobster, is a species that primarily lives in southern Australian waters and New Zealand.

Beyond these, Australia boasts over 100 crayfish species. though the ones listed above are by far more abundant.

Licences, Laws, and Regulations: Fishing Responsibly

Before casting your line, it's imperative to obtain a fishing licence, whether for recreational or commercial purposes. Here are key regulations to adhere to:

1. Bag Limits:

The daily catch is capped at eight rock lobsters or four tropical rock lobster species. Group fishing on a boat allows for up to 24 lobsters, provided there are at least three licence holders onboard.

2. Size Requirements:

Western and tropical rock lobsters must measure at least 76mm, while southern rock lobsters should be at least 98.5mm.

3. Female Crayfish:

Catching females with eggs or with signs of breeding is prohibited.

4. Diving Rules:

Only blunt crooks, snares, or hands are permitted for catching lobsters while diving.

5. Pot Limits and Specifications:

Each licence holder is allowed a maximum of two rock lobster pots, with detailed specifications outlined by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Crayfishing Techniques: From Diving to Potting

1. Prime Locations:

The stretch from Exmouth to Augusta offers abundant crayfish populations. Geraldton and Perth, in particular, are hotspots for crayfishing.

2. Diving for Crays:

Equipped with a comfortable wetsuit, gloves, neoprene socks, and closed-heel fins, divers can pursue crayfish using a loop (snare) or by hand. Understanding crayfish behaviour and movements, which vary with the season, enhances your chances of a successful catch.

3. Potting:

Choose between timber, plastic, or metal pots based on your specific needs. Secure rigging and fresh bait such as oily baits, blue mackerel, or tuna heads are crucial for a fruitful potting experience.

Must-Have Crayfishing Accessories:

At Sea Renity Marine Boat Accessories Perth, we have a plethora of top-notch accessories tailored for your crayfishing needs, Popular accessories include:

1. Cray Winch (CRAY POT WINCH MUIR VC800):

Designed for vessels up to 14m, our Muir VC800 cray winch integrates a 600W motor and an inline drive for superior performance. It's capable of lifting a maximum load of 180kg and a working load of 36kg. The winch has a max line speed of 39m/min and can be mounted both vertically and horizontally. The capstan rotates clockwise with an auto clutch to prevent rollback, making it a reliable addition to your crayfishing gear.


Our alloy cray tipper is the epitome of durability and convenience. It's constructed from 5mm plate and heavy-wall tube, complete with a full-width stainless steel roller for smooth operation. The safety locking bar and marine-grade aluminium make it an indispensable tool for both amateurs and professionals.

3. Cray Pots:

We offer two variants: Both are made of high-quality timber and jarrah frames; the small 1/2-size pots are perfect for jetskis, small boats, and kids, and the 3/4-size cray pot has a metal base for added weight and durability. Both feature multiple escape gaps, bait baskets, and a removable trap door for easy removal of crayfish.

4. Bathiscopes:

Our high-quality bathiscopes offer a clear view of the underwater world. Made from heavy-duty plastic with a soft rubber face seal, they're easy to use and dismantle for storage. Whether checking your mooring, Craypot spots, or searching for fish, our bathiscopes are a must-have.


These floats are versatile and perfect for crabnets, fishing nets, or marking your cray pots. They help you identify your gear and maintain its location.

6. Bait:

We provide a variety of bait options including BLUE MACKEREL (20KG), Hoki Heads (available in 20kg, 5kg boxes), and TUNA HEADS (available in approximately 20kg, 2kg, and 5kg packs). Fresh and effective, our bait selection is geared towards a successful crayfish catch

7. Marine Chart Plotters & Sounders:

merging GPS navigation with comprehensive sea maps. They provide vital data like your exact location, speed, and heading. These tools are particularly beneficial for crayfishers, enabling you to mark fruitful areas or locate your cray pots quickly. While they significantly improve safety and enjoyment, chartplotters should be part of a broader navigational toolkit to guarantee a smooth and secure boating experience.

8. Anodes (ANODE -ZHS3.5D SLAB 3.5KG):

Protect your equipment from corrosion with our slab anodes, weighing 3.5kg and designed for a multitude of applications including cray, crab pots, and sea chests.

By incorporating these accessories from Sea Renity Marine Boating Accessories Perth into your crayfishing arsenal, you're equipped not just for success but for an unparalleled crayfishing experience. Each product is a testament to our commitment to quality, durability, and enhancing your aquatic adventures. Dive into our website to explore more about how our accessories can elevate your next crayfishing expedition.

How to catch Crayfish using pots

Step 1: Preparation

  1. Gather Equipment: Ensure you have cray pots, bait, a cray winch, a tipper (to assist in hauling the pots onto the boat), gloves, and a measuring gauge to check the size of the crayfish.
  2. Check Regulations: Before you start, check local regulations regarding crayfishing in your area. This includes size limits, the number of pots allowed, and any seasonal restrictions.

Step 2: Baiting and Launching Cray Pots

  1. Bait the Pots: Secure bait such as fish heads or any other oily fish into the bait box of the cray pots. The smell of the bait will attract crayfish.
  2. Mark Your Pots: Attach a buoy with a unique identification mark to each pot. This is typically required by law and also helps you locate your pots later.
  3. Position the Boat: Navigate the boat to an area known for crayfish, usually rocky bottoms or areas with plenty of hideouts for crayfish.
  4. Deploy the Pots: Once you’ve reached a good spot, carefully lower the cray pots into the water one by one using the tipper to guide them. Space the pots a reasonable distance apart.

Step 3: Waiting Period

  1. Let the Pots Soak: Crayfish pots are usually left to soak for several hours or overnight, giving crayfish enough time to enter the pots.

Step 4: Retrieving Cray Pots

  1. Locate Your Pots: Use the marked buoys to find where you placed your pots.
  2. Position the Boat: Carefully maneuver your boat so that you can access the buoys without getting them tangled in the boat's propellers.
  3. Attach the Winch: Hook the rope from the buoy onto the cray winch.
  4. Haul the Pot: Use the cray winch to pull the pot to the surface. The winch saves a lot of effort, especially in deeper waters.
  5. Use the Tipper: Once the pot is at the surface, use the tipper to help bring the pot onto the boat safely.

Step 5: Sorting the Catch

  1. Wear Gloves: Put on your gloves to protect your hands from the crayfish's claws.
  2. Measure the Crayfish: Use the measuring gauge to ensure the crayfish meet legal size requirements. Release any that are too small or female crayfish with eggs.
  3. Check for Damage: Inspect the crayfish for any damage or poor health. Only keep the ones that are healthy and of legal size.
  4. Store Your Catch: Place the kept crayfish in a holding tank or cooler with a wet burlap sack over them to keep them moist and cool.

Step 6: Resetting or Storing Pots

  1. Reset the Pots: If you plan to continue fishing, rebait the pots and repeat Steps 2 to 5.
  2. Store the Pots: If you're done for the day, clean the pots and store them properly on the boat.

Step 7: Return to Shore

  1. Navigate Back: Once you have completed your crayfishing, carefully navigate back to shore with your catch.
  2. Follow Regulations: Ensure you adhere to any regulations regarding the transport of crayfish.


Culinary Delights: From Catch to Kitchen

Western Australian rock lobsters are celebrated for their exquisite white flesh and delicate flavour. Whether you're crafting a South American-style crayfish flamed with brandy or a simple smoky barbecued rock lobster, the key is to let the natural flavours shine.

recipe ideas:

1. Herbed with garlic Butter
2. Crayfish Salads
3. Chilli Butter and lemon wedges

Concluding Thoughts

Crayfishing in Western Australia is not just a pursuit of a prized catch; it's an adventure that melds respect for nature, adherence to regulations, and a celebration of culinary art. By following this comprehensive guide, you'll be well-equipped to embark on your crayfishing journey, ensuring sustainability and enjoyment go hand in hand. Happy crayfishing!

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