This week: Fresh Water Yabbies
This week article is fun for the whole family and especially for kids. Fresh water yabbies are a reasonably common in fresh water dams, rivers and streams around Australia. Fishing for yabbies forms part of the inland commercial fishery but is also a popular recreational fishing pastime especially in the western parts of NSW. Just watching the kids around water, but while your on the bank of a river/dam you may as well drop a line or net with a tinny in hand. Yabbies are most active during the warmer months and do slow down during the winter. So when camping near a river, dam or stream it is worth having a net or a single piece of string with a bait handy to see if a yabby is present in the water. If using a string bait an old chip fryer basket comes in very handy for a scoop.
There are over 100 or so freshwater crayfish(yabby) species found in Australia. The common yabby a smooth shelled crayfish, scientific name (Cherax destructor) refers to its burrowing habit. Yabbies cause considerable damage by burrowing into dam walls and levee banks. In times of drought a yabby can burrow many metres down into the ground where it will lie dormant for several years until the next rains or flood bring suitable conditions for growth and breeding. The colour range is variable and depends on water clarity and habitat; yabbies can range from black, blue-brown, blue-black, or dark brown in clear waters to light brown, green-brown, or beige in turbid waters. The yabby sits in the middle of the food chain and is basically vegetarian, but also scavenges decaying plants, animal matter especially carrion. One of our favourite baits is roo leg meat (only legal to shoot under permit or road kill is just as good) and sheep kidneys but yabbies will eat just about anything. In times of overcrowding and shortage of food, yabbies will eat their own.
Yabbies are an important part of the diet of the white ibis, several species of cormorant and fish such as Murray Cod, Golden Perch and redfin. Yabbies are fantastic to eat and simple to cook. Boil water add salt and cook for no longer than 7 mins. They have a very sweet meat and the claws of larger specimens are particularly succulent. I personally enjoy them once you have allow them cool. The other useful reason to catch a yabby is they make fantastic bait, especially for Murray Cod, Golden perch and Yellow belly, so while the kids are catching a yabby or to you can throw a line ina. Yabbies reproduction occurs in spring and summer and the female can carry around 600-1000 eggs under her tail. If you catch a yabbies carrying eggs (‘berried’) they must be returned to the water. This ensure that the next generation of this valuable species can survive and flourish. Females in berry are very easy to identify so there is no reason not to return them.
If you are going to use nets be careful as there are very specific rules about the use and possession of traps. Opera house traps are banned in public waters east of the Newell Highway and in three stretches of river west of the Newell Highway, the Edward River upstream of Stevens Weir, the Murray River upstream of the Echuca/Moama Rd Bridge and the Murrumbidgee River upstream of Darlington Point Rd Bridge. Fisheries NSW does have a map to show where traps are banned. Other closures exist throughout NSW for example Murray crayfish are listed as a vulnerable species and fishing for them is not permitted in any waters in NSW between September and May.
Tight lines until next week get out there and have some fun.
Bucket of yabbies caught 2 weeks ago.