The best spots to catch yabbies in Perth

What the hell is a yabby?

A yabby in Australia is a freshwater crustacean and the two common types in WA are the Cherax albidus and Cherax destructor. The main type of yabby farmed in Western Australia is the Cherax albidus. Since the yabbies introduction to WA in 1932, they have reached all over the state.  Just so you know ‘yabbies’ and ‘koonacs’ are not the same thing.  Koonacs are small WA native crayfish, whereas yabbies are an introduced species.  We also have marron and gilgies in WA and it’s easy to confuse them all so google image search them if you need to know the difference or just go here:


How to catch yabbies?

When I was a kid, my mum used to load my siblings and I up with a bunch of “yabby catching” gear and tell us to go to the creek, catch yabbies and don’t come home until 5pm. We obliged. The gear comprised of a coat hanger pulled into a square with an old stocking pulled over it for a net, a roll of string and some lamb chops.  The yabby catching method was very simple, tie chop to string, chuck line in creek, wait, feel a little pull, pull yabby in slowly, scoop up with home-made yabby net.  Surprisingly this simple method actually works as long as you have patience and you aren’t trying to provide dinner.  Catching yabbies this way is more for entertainment and it gave my brother, sister and me lots of practice handling yabbies without getting pinched.

The more effective way to catch yabbies is to use a yabbie net, pot or trap.  I always use ones that look like this, you just put the bait in the long pipe cylinder:


Chuck your yabby net in the dam, creek, river and check after an hour or so.  Sometimes we used to leave the nets for a few hours to get a really good catch.  Remember that if you catch a yabby with eggs in a dam, throw it back to repopulate the dam population. 

Where to catch yabbies in WA?

If you have a friend who is a farmer then lucky you as muddy farm dams are the best for catching yabbies.  I have several farmers in my friend group so I am never short of a yabby feed from one of their dams.  If you don’t then you can still catch yabbies in creeks and rivers also. 


Try the residential ponds near you as many local WA suburban lakes, ponds, streams and creeks in Perth have yabbies.  The swan river is another good spot to find yabbies. Look for ponds with dirty water, not clear, more chance of yabbies this way.  Yabbies love mud.

There are not too many fishing restrictions when catching yabbies in Perth as they are introduced not native, but there are some for marron and gilgies as these guys are native.  Best to check with fisheries if you are worried as you might come across some marron and gilgies in the local water and it’s good to know the difference.  The best spots to find and fish for yabbies in Perth:

  1. Kalamunda – Numerous streams and creeks
  2. Mundaring – Numerous streams and creeks
  3. Ballajura – Emu Lake
  4. Ocean Reef - Beaumaris Lake
  5. Coogee
  6. Canning Dam
  7. Ellenbrook Lake
  8. Bennett Springs 
  9. Canning River
  10. Swan River
  11. Canning Vale Lake


The best bait for yabbies?

Good yabby bait for a net/trap/pot is dry dog food in the bait chamber or some meat e.g. a lamb chop or diced lamb/meat.  Rancid meat is best as they can smell it.  I have heard of kids using sheep heart.

Special yabby facts and catching tips:

  1. Kids will find this technique fun but you have to risk a nip or two.  Put raw meat between your toes hanging out a bit, walk into the water and when you feel a nibble just pluck them out of the water.  Easy and fun.  
  2. To make a yabby fall asleep, hold them down and softly stroke their backs. Tah dah, a sleeping yabby.  Good party trick.  You can do a similar trick to hypnotise a chicken.  How do I Hypnotise a Chicken I hear you ask? Catch as chicken if you can, put it on its back, stroke its chest for a 30 seconds until calm.  Flip it over and the chicken will be hypnotised.  Clap when want to realease it.  Another way to hypnotise a chicken? Catch a chicken, draw line in the dirt, put chickens head and beak on line, hold, release and chicken will not move.  Clap to release.
  3. A yabby can reach the size of around 12cm. 
  4. Good news kids, in Australia yabbies are not protected so you can keep them as pets.  
  5. Yabbies come in many colours, brown, green and pale blue depending on their environment e.g. dam yabbies are brown as they live in mud whereas river and stream yabbies are the more vivid colours as they live in clearer water. 
  6. As a yabby grows it molts it's shell and grows a new bigger one. 


The best ways to cook yabbies:

The texture of yabbies is similar to crayfish or prawns but I find the taste sweeter, stronger and better and as well as being easy to catch, yabbies are pretty easy to cook. Some people soak the yabbies in water overnight to release some of the muddy taste but I never do, this is what makes yabbies special.

The most traditional way to cook yabbies is to boil them.  Boil a big pot of water and pop the yabbies in, cook them until they turn a beautiful orangey red.  Drain and rinse with cold water or dump them in an ice bath if you want to peel them straight away.  Peel as you would a prawn, including the poo track. All done, see below for the top ways to serve yabbies.


The best ways to serve yabbies:

  1. In my opinion the best way to eat yabbies is to stir fry them (no heads) in their shell in a large wok with oil/butter, garlic and chilli.  Peel and enjoy. 
  2. Pickled in a jar with vinegar
  3. Freshly grilled with garlic, serve with rice and salad
  4. Boiled and served with lettuce, sea food sauce, lemon and avocado.  Cocktail style.
  5. Try them crumbed and deep fried with salt, pepper, vinegar to go on them.
  6. Fresh yabbies, fresh crusty bread with mayo or butter.  



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