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Estuary Basics: Catching Blue Swimmer Crabs

Blue Swimmer Crabs are one of my favourite summer foods to eat. Their flesh is delicious and sweet even when simply cooked in boiling water. Blue Swimmers can be purchased at the fish markets and even in the seafood section of your local supermarket but personally I prefer to catch them myself, then cook and eat them fresh.

Catching Blue Swimmers Crabs is really easy and in comparison to buying them, inexpensive. In New South Wales, all you need is a couple of things and you’ll be on your way.

Trap: The witches hat style crab traps are cheap and really simple to use. You can pick up these style of traps for between $6 and $10 each from most fishing stores. They consist of a metal hoop, cotton like mesh, a string line tied across the centre of the hoop and 5 – 6 metres of rope.


Float: A float is necessary to locate your pot while also making it visible to other users of the waterways. There is no set sizes for your floats, personally I use 3 litre milk bottles as they are easy to see on the water, free and they also provide enough room to mark up your details as required by NSW Fisheries.

Bait Pouch: Although it isn’t necessary, a bait pouch makes things a lot easier when deploying your traps. You can easily load up your bait, secure the opening with a piece of string or cable tie and you won’t have to worry about the bait breaking up or fish eating it before the crabs get to it.

Weight: Also not necessary, I prefer to put a weight such as a snapper lead inside the

pouch. This helps keep the trap on the bottom while also slowing it down from drifting too far if there is a strong current.

Bait: In my opinion it doesn’t really matter what you use for bait, some old fisherman will swear by certain baits such as mullet or flathead frames. Usually I have a couple of fish frames in my freezer specifically for this if not I’ll purchase 2 whole mullet putting half a fish in each trap.


With these five items, you can get out and drop your own traps. I look for areas with sand, nearby current and weed beds. Once they are down, leave them for a few hours before checking them. In New South Wales, each angler is only allowed a maximum of four traps and each must be clearly labelled with: “HN”, your initial and surname, your date of birth and postcode. For other states you’ll need to consult with your local authorities.

Hopefully it won’t be long and you will be catching your own Blue Swimmer Crabs. Get out there and give it a go before the weather gets too cold and they become scarce.


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