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Best tricks and tricks for yabby fishing

YABBYING epitomises Australian culture like nothing else, and for many of us, it is a tradition that is etched in our childhood memories. There’s nothing quite like being out on the river, camp cooking up a nice pot of yabbies, experimenting with new recipes, or even landing a new PB. 

Yabbies are part of almost everyone’s fishing experience at some point. There are a few different species that are common across Australia, but you can catch them across all States.  

Yabbies are known to bury themselves in the muddy depths for months at a time. And the mud of the riverbank with some shade is where you should look for their burrows, but it takes patience and skill to catch the delicate morsels. 

Their adaptability and widespread distribution make them a beloved catch for rec anglers – they can be snagged in almost any water body from rivers and streams in high country to farm dams, lakes, still farm ponds and even channels accessible to the public. And what’s more, they’re available year-round. Though, they’re undeniably more active in the warmer months. 

The real challenge is not snagging the yabbies, it’s figuring out what to do with them afterward. Sure, they’re fantastic for a meal, but they’re equally irresistible as bait, especially for our natives like Murray cod – so for us fishos it’s a bit of a conundrum. 

When yabbying make sure you’re checking those traps often. Most people aim for the medium to large ones as the little ones prove too fiddly with not much reward. 

One significant shift in this journey towards responsible fishing is the transition from old-school opera house-style yabby traps to eco-friendly open-top or pyramid nets.  

Initially, there was some resistance to the change which sparked mixed feeling from anglers, and fisheries departments conducted research to compare the effectiveness of the new nets versus the old ones, and the results were evenly matched – a one-for-one outcome. 

Proving the new nets are just as adept at catching yabbies, but the key lies in mastering the technique of using them. Now there’s a growing acceptance among fishos as they recognise the long-term benefits. 

Queensland remains the only state not to fully ban the use and sale of opera house nets and they are currently seeking community feedback on the change. 

What is remarkable is not just the switch in gear but the fishing experience the new nets are fostering particularly within fishing families. Yabbying with kids has got to be one of the most fun types of fishing that anyone can do. Parents can provide a simple and effective fishing experience close to home and kids get the experience and excitement of checking the nets regularly, whereas the older style nets were set and forget. I know families where everyone gets involved -it’s simple because you don’t need a boat and can bring all of the cousins together.  

We asked a family of four to test out the new nets and found some surprising results. 

“During my childhood, every Easter break was spent camping in the outback on a station with my family and catching yabbies was always on the list,” said Michelle. 

“The new nets are a more active style of fishing; you’ve got to pay them more attention than the other nets. 

“I was a little hesitant at first, but I was incredibly amazed at how fun and quick they are to keep kids engaged. My children had fun using them while camping,” said Michelle, 

The magic of open-top yabby nets lies in their simplicity and effectiveness. Anglers can easily release unintended catches while securing their prized yabbies, ensuring minimal harm to non-target species. It’s a win-win approach that echoes the next generation of fishos commitment to doing better than the last. 

Through these practices, anglers are proving that fishing isn’t always just about what you catch – but the fishing experience. So, if you’re not already on board, make the switch. 

There are many initiatives, Victorian Fishing Authority offered a one-for-one trade-in, RecFish SA are currently running swaps for the old style nets and Ocean Earth Foundation, in collaboration with OzFish Unlimited and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, are supporting rec fishers in handing in their old nets and embracing sustainable fishing practices by giving away free lures in NSW so that the old nets can be recycled. You can find out more about these programs here:  


Equipment: open top net, a bucket or a container to hold your catch. 

Location: Look for areas with slow-moving or still water, such as dams, ponds, or slow-flowing rivers and streams. Yabbies tend to burrow into the soft mud or sand along the edges of these water bodies. 

Timing: Yabbies are most active during the warmer months, so consider fishing in spring and summer when they are more likely to be out and about. 

Baiting: Use bait that yabbies are attracted to, such as meat scraps or fish heads. Secure the bait and lower it gently into the water near the yabby burrows. 

Handling: Hold them firmly but gently behind the claws – they pack a punch if you do get nipped!  

Know The Rules: Make sure you read the rules before you go. They change all the time and vary from state to state. 

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