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Back in the game with some Blue Swimmers


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Yesterday I had a fairly average day at work.  As I left the office I checked the weather and the tide.  The wind was supposed to drop away to nothing and the tide would be pretty much full when I got home.  I put a call into home and asked my wife if she could take the small hatchback without the towbar when she picked up our daughter - I need to go fishing.  I've barely been out since the hairtail social because I was training for a marathon so was running all the time.

When I got to Woy Woy I could see the conditions were indeed perfect.  I headed home and started prepping the boat.  The wife arrived shortly after to swap cars and she asked what the plan was.  I said I'm going out for an hour or two to try for some blue swimmer crabs. 

Shortly after I put the boat in and motered a very short distance (about 100m or so) to a spot that has produced for me before.  I put out a handline with a thrid of an old flathead frame on a gang of hooks, put it over the rod holder and stuck the gaff handle through the spool and into the rod holder.

While I waited for the crabs to find the bait I started a burly trail and flicked out some lightly weighted prawns into it.  Before long the rod in the holder gets a bite, but as I reach for it the handline starts spinning in place.  I'm here for the crabs so I go for the handline and start winding it in.  Sure enough there is weight on it and I pull in a small-ish (but well legal) crab.  Netted and into the ice slurry for a nice sleep.  

Over the next hour and a half I boat two more big enough crabs - both on the small side but big enough that I am positive they are well over legal size.  I also land a couple of undersize snapper and a bream that would have been just under and they all go back.  I bring up two more crabs but I'm losing the light and I miss both with the net.  Think it is time to head in...

Shortly after I get home and my lovely wife is very pleased to be getting our first feed of blues for the summer.  Always great to come home with something.  Even better when you come home with what you said you were going to try for when you left.  I steamed them last night and picked them tonight - the plan is to stir it through some fresh pasta for a nice simple dinner tomorrow.  

Great to have daylight savings here.  Amazing how a fairly average day can be turned into a great day when you close it out like that.  

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8 hours ago, papafish said:

So you basically hook the fish head in gank hook.. any sinker or weight? Or lines to snag the crab?? And how do you know if you are into a crab^^? Thanks in advance

Yeah - I put a running sinker directly above the hooks - no swivel.  You can go fairly heavy as the crabs are not fussy and you want to make sure the bait stays on the bottom.  If you cut a legal flathead frame into 3 sections you can use any of the sections as bait.  The tails and the middle work just as well as the head.  You can also use chicken necks, strip baits or pillies, but you want something tough.  You don't actually hook the crab, they just hold onto it.  I prefer not to use pillies because they are too soft and once the crab gets it off the hooks they wander off with it.  On the flip side though if you have a pillie on there you may pick up a passing flathead.  

I always use a handline for crabs and it outfishes a rod with the same rig every time.  I rest the handline on the gunwale positioned so the middle of the spool is over the rod holder and then put a rod, the net or a gaff handle into the rod holder so the handline can freespool without getting pulled into the drink.  It will usually take about 10 mins or so before the crabs show up.  What happens is the crab will pick up the bait in their claws and start walking off with it.  This will cause the handline to start spinning.  At this point you pick up the handline and start gently winding it in.  The crab will hang on for dear life to its dinner.  If there is a crab on the line you will feel a distinct dead weight as you pull it in.  You may feel a very faint pulse from his paddle feet, but more often this is lost in the stretch of the mono on the handlines.   If you don't feel anything then drop it straight down and keep it in hand.  If it was spooling there is likely a crab there and they will come straight back.

As you pull it up take care to do it slow and steady.  My theory for why a handline outfishes a rod is that when you reel in with a rod you get a bit of bounce in the tip as you wind it in and this either spooks the crab into letting go or just shakes it off.  If you feel it drop off just stop, they will sometimes swim up and grab it again.

When you can see the crab don't lift him out as he will let go.  Pull him to one side and quickly scoop him out with the net from behind.  

This is a fun a productive method, fairly relaxing because it is never too hectic - if you have two lines going at once you just wind one in, deal with it and then get the other one.  They don't go anywhere - another reason to use a robust bait.  Also great to do with kids.  

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