Catching yabbies can be a fun holiday activity, and if you choose to eat them, they also make a tasty meal. They are freshwater crustaceans, native to parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. Where you find fresh water, from dams, rivers, and swamps, you'll probably find some of these.
To catch yabbies you'll need about three things: a yabby trap, some string, and a meat bone. You can purchase traps online, or at most fishing supply stores, and everything else can be found at your local supermarket. Tie and the position the meat inside the trap, and use the string to throw the trap into the water. Once you've tied the string to a nearby branch it is time to wait.
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Unlike regular fishing, waiting doesn't mean you have to sit around waiting for a tug on the trap. The meat inside will attract the yabbies, and once they're inside they have difficulty getting out. You can leave them for 5 minutes or 5 hours, go on doing whatever you want to do, and then come back to check on them. Loosen the string from the branch, and then pull in the traps smoothly but quickly. You can check out how many yabbies you have, and either sort them out or put them back in.
There is an easier way of catching yabbies, but you'll have to hang around for it. Forgo the yabby traps, and instead just tie a piece of meat to some string. Submerge the meat underwater, and then wait for the yabbies to come biting. Pull out the meat and catch any yabbies in the net. It might not be as productive as using a yabby trap, but it is definitely still fun.
If you're planning on eating the yabbies, make sure you only take the bigger ones. Not only should you leave the younger yabbies alone, but the bigger ones will have more meat and be easier to eat. Any yabbies that you aren't keeping you can leave by the bank, or gently throw back in. The best bit about catching yabbies, is that it is fun even if you don't want to eat them. If you're not after some food, then just release all the yabbies, and watch them scurry towards the water.
If you're wondering how to cook yabbies, it usually only takes some boiling water and salt. You can check out the Daylesford Macedon Produce website for a how-to guide. Remember that putting live yabbies in the freezer, helps stop any pain. Once they're cooked you can peel them, and clean out any gunk, and enjoy the taste.
So take part in a Australian childhood tradition, and go catch some yabbies at your local waterhole. Kids will have a great time catching them, but some might feel a little apprehensive about eating them afterwards.
Those yabby traps (opera-house nets) catch not only yabbies, but in streams where tortoises and platypus live, they catch and kill lots of our native wildlife. They are illegal in Victoria!! If you want to see the yabbies, use either a hoop net which won't drown platypus & turtles, or best still, just a piece of meat on a string.
I have many happy memories of catching yabbies with my brothers and their friends, at the Torrens River in Windsor Gardens. None of us kids ate the yabbies we caught, but we brought them home for my Dad to cook and eat - he loved them!