How to

NSW DPI: Spring into yabbying!

A pyramid style yabby trap. Image: NSW DPI

AS winter’s chill fades into spring in country NSW, freshwater lakes, dams, rivers, and creeks temperatures begin to climb and there is no better time to go yabbying.

This is a great time of year to get out of the house for a weekend getaway and go yabbying. Yabbying is a great experience for families with a major bonus being that they taste great!

What is a yabby?

The word “yabby” is used to describe a broader family of freshwater crustaceans, of which around 100 different species exist in Australia, the most regularly encountered is the “common yabby”, scientifically known as cherax destructor.

As mentioned, spring and summer represent the best time of year to catch yabbies. It is also worth noting that spawning occurs in spring and female yabbies can carry up to 800 eggs under their tail. If you do catch a “berried” female, ensure you release it immediately.

Generally speaking, yabbies aren’t hard to catch, which is a major reason why yabbying is such a great family activity.

In NSW mum or dad would require holding a receipt for the recreational fishing fee, commonly known as a “fishing licence”; children under 18 are exempt, as are Aboriginal people or those holding a pensioner concession card. The licence is available in three-day, one-month, one-year and three-year format that can be purchased online at Service NSW or a Service NSW centre, by phone on 1300 369 365 or at fishing tackle stores.

The simplest way to catch a yabby is by tying a piece of meat on a string or cord. You throw the baited line in the water and wait for the “tug” as a hungry yabbie tries to make off with it. You slowly draw the yabbie in close to the bank where you either grab it or scoop it up in a net.  It’s great fun, although plenty of yabbies escape as you bring them close to shore.

A more efficient and equally enjoyable way to gather a feed of yabbies is to use a yabby net. Two main types are available – an open pyramid net and a hoop net. Note that yabby traps, commonly known as “opera house” traps, are now banned for use in all NSW waters. The reason the traps are banned is because of the unacceptable bycatch of native species including platypus, turtles, water rats and birds, which can enter the traps while feeding and drown.

Yabby nets work best if “actively” fished, use fresh bait and check your nets every 30-60 minutes for best results.

In NSW each person holding a recreational fishing licence is permitted to have 5 open pyramid lift nets. These nets require to be marked with a buoy positioned above the net and must be 50 mm above the water clearly displaying the letters “PN”, with the users initial, surname, year of birth and postcode, 15 mm in height, clearly visible and in contrasting colour to the buoy. Any rope attached to the buoy must not be floating on the surface of the water.

There is a bag and possession limit of 200 yabbies which is plenty enough for a feed and some bait to maybe catch one of our great freshwater native fish or the many trout species available in NSW.

If you’re heading on holidays or just looking for great family activity to do why not give yabbying a go, just be sure to head to the DPI website and make sure of the rules and regulations or download the FishSmart app, a great source of information on bag and size limits, rules and regulations and more.

Be sure to check out some additional information below on making those open pyramid lift nets even more efficient.

Tip #1 – Open pyramid lift nets are most effective when “actively fished”. Check your nets at least once every hour to maximise your catch rates.

Tip #2 – While the nets can produce high catch rates in productive yabby fisheries, performance can be enhanced by cutting down the sides of nets to half the commercially available length.

Tip #3 – Modifying the sides of nets is legal as long as the mesh height is less than 150mm and the horizontal opening at the top of the net parallel to the base of the net is greater than 200mm in all dimensions. 

DPI Fisheries understands that recreational yabby fishing is highly popular, especially in western NSW, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the recreational fishing community for working with us to reduce impacts on non-target native species such as platypus, turtles, water birds and water rats. DPI continues to work with the commercial yabby sector to move towards more environmentally friendly gear.

Report suspected illegal fishing activity to the Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536.

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