Learning to catch a yabby is a rite of passage for your typical country child here in Australia. I think I caught my first before I even started school but have been limited in providing my children with the same experience in the city I’m raising them. There was no mistaking our next step when we found ourself on a property with a dam. Yabby hunting! But how do we catch one?
While catching a yabby does not require a whole lot of skill, making it a great exercise for children, It does require a lot of patience. This makes it a great activity to practice this life skill.
If you’re wondering, a yabby is an Australian freshwater crayfish which can grow up to 30cm in length. In my hometown in North-Eastern Victoria they populate our dams and creeks making them an easy catch for youngsters with patience.
What you will need:
Fishing line or a yabby net
Small goldfish type net
After procuring the necessary items you are set. The next step is simple. Throw your line or net in and wait.
If using a line you will need to hold your line and feel for a tug. When the tugging commences, slowly pull the line in towards you. As the meat (tied to the end of your line) draws closer to the shoreline you should be able to see a yabby on the line which will hopefully have sunk it’s claw into the meat. As you are not using a hook you need to be extra careful to not spook the yabby. The trick is to now grab the yabby before it works out your intention. We usually have a small goldfish net on hand to scoop it up. Our success rate using this method is limited. We’re not fast enough nor patient enough most of the time.
We were lucky to have a yabby net on hand for our first ever attempt. Designed specifically for yabbies, they enter the net easily but can not exit. We check the net every few hours, throw back the small ones and take the larger ones for later. (The Opera House Net can only be used in private dams and can’t be used in rivers, creeks or other public waterways).
Holding a yabby is a skill quickly mastered if one does not want to receive a nasty pinch from a claw. Remember to always hold them behind the claw joints. Their claws can reach and you’ll be able to move them easily.
This time we decided to return our catch to the water. Who knows, perhaps these little fellas will return to us next time we go yabbying.