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Blue Manna and Mud Crabs

Blue (Manna) Swimmer Crab Mud (Mangrove) Crab Blue mannas are one of the simple pleasures of a WA summer. Mud crabs can snap the neck of a beer bottle with their claws.

Mud crabs are so tasty they can sell for as much as $28 a kilo and are quite happy to snip off a careless digit or two if you let them. Both are fun to catch and quite easy if you follow some simple steps.

Scientific Information

Blue mannas are a southern species to a large degree but we were surpised to hear how many northern areas such as Onslow have both at various times of the year.

They infiltrate river systems but are just as happy in 25m of water in the ocean which gives you a large scope when deciding how to tackle them.

Mud crabs own a powerful set of claws that can snap the necks off beer bottles and are visibly more aggressive than blues. They live in muddy creek systems and seem to prefer mangroves. They are found from Kalbarri northwards through northern Australia.

How To Catch Them

Our favourite spot is Mandurah where you can try scooping or drop netting from your boat but put back any females with eggs.
When crabbing in Mandurah, we prefer the Dawesville area and, from the hours of 9am to 4pm, you can find crabs sitting in the deep water. This is not a good time to scoop but, in the early morning and late afternoon they come into the shallower water and this is the time to start hunting them with a scoop net.

If you’re scooping (we’re mad on scooping) it’s worth trekking commando style though chest deep water to find those shallow islands in the middle of the estuary. This is where the BIG suckers live in late afternoon. Don’t discard the Mandurah beaches either, especially around the Halls Head area for drop netting. The Mandurah run goes from late November to March.

Closer to Perth, Blackwall Reach is excellent for big blues but you’ll need at least 30m – 40m of rope so this can be an expensive exercise. Time of day doesn’t seem to matter too much but the size of crabs (and some say the flavour) in the Swan makes the extra effort worthwhile. Scooping in the Swan can be hit and miss but the area around the Leeuwin Barracks in East Fremantle is one of the better spots.

In the ocean, try Cockburn Sound’s deep gutters near Woodman Point for big blues or dive for them around Rockingham in the calmer bays around dusk. You also see them walking along the sand bar to Penguin Island around this time of day so don’t find one by stepping on them accidentally!

Bait for crabs varies but fish frames, liver or minced steak will get the job done. With the number of blowfish about these days, it’s a good idea to invest in some bait cages from your local tackle store. It’s fun and easy to target blue manna crabs but please put back any females with eggs.

Mud crabs own a powerful set of claws that can snap the necks off beer bottles if legend is to be believed. We’re not sure about that but they are visibly more aggressive than blues. Muddies live in muddy creek systems and seem to prefer mangroves where they’ll spend the day moving from hole to hole with the tide.

They are found from Kalbarri northwards through northern Australia in numbers but are starting to show up in the deep SW of WA. Nobody, at this stage, is quite sure why but many have already been caught this year in Mandurah which makes walking the flats with a crab net a bit of a different proposition these days. If they can break beer bottles, they’ll have no
problems with your toes!

Mud crabs are almost always in tidal creeks and can be caught using the same types of nets as you would use for blues or elaborate contraptions that look like the old cobbler traps. Fish frames and heads are the best bait and pickers are less of a problem so you won’t need cages.

If you’re crabbing in a tidal creek, look for some mangroves and a good muddy bank where you can toss a few nets in. A dinghy will be of great benefit to get you upstream where most of the best crabs will be. Avoid sandy areas near the creek mouth.

What you are looking for is holes on the banks at low tide where crabs have come up with the high tide to feed and hide. If there are holes about, the crabs won’t be far away so set your nets.

Leave them for about 20 minutes and pull them up quickly. Scooping is possible but it takes a brave person indeed to wriggle their toes through the Kimberley mud in search of a crab that more closely resembles a pair of bolt cutters.

For the real adventurous out there, you can always try hooking using a piece of wire. Insert the wire into the crabs hole and feel around until he bites the wire. Then just drag him out. Yeah right! Well keep our fingers thanks.