Mud Crab – To Keep or Not to Keep

How disheartening is it, when you catch a nice big muddy, only to discover there’s no meat in it. It’s such a waste of a good crab. If you’re an experienced crabber, you probably don’t have that problem. However, for the average Joe, often the lesson learned is after it’s too late.

The easiest way to tell if a mud crab is worth taking home is by its weight. If it feels quite heavy, it most likely has a lot of meat. But not always, another method to use is to hold it up to the light. If the shell is see through, it means it has a relatively new shell, and you should be able to see how much meat is in its claws. The rule I use is, if in doubt, throw it back.

  • Crabs that are low on meat have recently moulted their shell and have not yet filled it with flesh. They often have mostly liquid or jelly that will form into new flesh.
  • Look at the shell condition, if it has a clean, shiny and intact shell (sometimes translucent), it’s likely to be new.
  • Full crabs frequently have barnacles or algae on the shell.
  • Their shells also show some signs of wear and tear, like worn teeth on the claws.
  • Also look for the darker coloured cross on the underside of the crab.
  • You can turn the crab over and press on the abdomen plates next to to the third leg. If the shell flexes at all, the crab is not full. Don’t push too hard or your thumb might penetrate the shell.
  • Make sure the crab is tied before attempting to test the shell.
  • If you think it’s empty, return it to the water.

In tidal waters, when fishing for mud crabs, you cannot use more than four crab pots or dillies per person (or a combination of pots and dillies). Also, a person must not possess more than four crab apparatus per person, on a boat on the water. Female mud crabs are protected throughout Queensland, which means you cannot possess them at any time without a permit.

The size of a mud crab is defined by measuring the widest part of its carapace. Mud crabs must be a minimum size of 15 cm across the widest point of its carapace.

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male and female mud crab
mud crab size

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