catch it, clean it, cook it

Meet the locals

A lazy Sunday mid-morning, the swell was dead flat, the water crystal clear and the sky presented a beautiful blue blanket without a cloud in the sky. This is what winter is all about, these ideal and beautiful conditions, for getting in and catching crayfish!

I had been planning for a while to jump in and try get some photos of crays (Eastern Rock Lobsters to be specific) in their natural environment. I also thought it would be great to show people what else you are likely to encounter whilst searching for them.

Meet the locals – Some best avoided, whilst others offer a unique and exquisite dining experience.

Black lip abalone

Black Lipped Abalone:

  • Easy to get, just pry off the rocks with a sturdy knife
  • Very good to eat, especially simply sliced and fried with butter and garlic
  • Measure before taking off the rock as you can kill them easily as they are haemophilia
  • Usually found in cracks, crevices and under large white boulders

Red urchin

Red Sea Urchin:

  • Easy to get and in good supply
  • Be careful as the spines are sharp and can easily penetrate even if wearing gloves
  • The yellow/orange roe (spawning material) is what you are after, most plentiful between Feb-Oct in Australia
  • The roe is a desired taste, some like it, some don’t. I quite like it on top of sashimi as it adds a further level and experience

Angry moray Moray head on

Green Moray Eel:

  • Nasty little buggers, best to avoid
  • Pack a serious set of backward facing teeth and not afraid to use them
  • Often found in vicinity of crayfish nests due to their symbiotic relationship (Eels eat octopus, octopus eat crayfish – Eel offers protection for crayfish which in turn attracts octopus)
  • Have extra-large nostrils for extraordinary sense of smell, be careful if you have fish in bags, pockets etc as they will come looking for it
  • I don’t consider them edible, I just leave them to do their thing

Common occy

Common Sydney Octopus:

  • Can sometimes be hard to see as they camouflage themselves well
  • Good to eat, but I prefer to leave them as they are smart little creatures and have their place
  • Often found tucked up in cracks and covered in rocks and shells (as camouflage)
  • More active at night when they hunt crayfish
  • Will often enter crayfish traps and “steal” the crayfish from within

Easter rock lobster solo Cray nest Caught cray

Eastern Rock Lobster (Cray/Crayfish):

  • Awesome to eat
  • Found in cracks, caves near cunji beds and often covered with heavy weed like kelp
  • Can be found solo or in groups called nests
  • Small crays are referred to as kittens
  • Check under the tail for eggs “in berry” and release carefully if so
  • Grab the cray securely round the head/base of the antennae – don’t grab at legs or antennae as they simply break off

Red crabs and crays Crabs, crays and urchins

Next time you are out searching for crays, make sure you keep an eye out for some of the other locals around


2 comments on “Meet the locals

  1. Adam Jackson
    August 30, 2013

    excellent article and pictures

  2. Amber
    August 30, 2013

    I read crayfish, and I think of their freshwater cousins: . As kids, we used to catch them from the creek on the land my parents owned, and boil them up. Much less dangerous- just flip over rocks on the creek bed, and snatch them up quick.

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