There’s plenty of fishing and crabbing opportunities in Thompson Beach. Even if you don’t catch a thing, the stunning views will more than make up for it. It certainly beats jostling for space on a crowded jetty in the suburbs!
Please bear in mind the Thompson Beach area is an important nursery for aquatic creatures and a sanctuary for birds – so tread lightly.
Note that fisheries officers are in attendance quite regularly, checking catches.
Blue Swimmer Crab
Thompson Beach is well known for its blue swimmer crabs, which can be harvested during October, November, December, January, February, March and April.
I’m told from the beginning of October until November is when the crabs are considered to be at their most tasty and in the best condition.
How To Catch Blue Swimmer Crabs
Blue swimmer crabs are usually captured at Thompson Beach through the use of special crab rakes, which are slowly pulled through the sand around the edge of patches of weed where you can see the sand has been disturbed.
When the rake strikes a crab, it may latch onto it. The crab is then carefully raked towards the person, the rake turned over in one movement and the crab dropped into a tub. It doesn’t always go quite this smoothly, and you may need a couple of tries, so try not to stir up the bottom so you can see where the crab has gone.
You may also find that once the blue swimmer crab latches onto the rake, it won’t let go. Be patient – gentle taps on the side of the tub may dislodge it, if you do it too hard, you may damage the crab. At times you’ll need to physically try to pry the claws apart. Be careful, if it then grabs onto your finger, it won’t be something you forget too soon.
There are strict limits on how many blue swimmer crabs can be taken at Thompson Beach. As at October 1, 2017, the personal daily bag limit is 20; which is a combined limit with sand crabs.
The daily boat limit (3 or more people on board) is 60.
The minimum legal size for blue swimmer crabs is 11 cm, which is measured across the shell from the base of the largest spines. Note that females “in berry” i.e., with external eggs, must be returned to the water immediately.
The bag limit is pretty generous, but it doesn’t mean you have to take all you catch just because you can. It would be nice if future generations can grab a feed of blue swimmer crabs as well.
When hunting for blue swimmer crabs, avoid damaging the seagrass beds – they are a very important part of the local ecosystem.
Note that the video above shows it’s not about bashing the blue swimmer crab to death, nor ripping up patches of weed or aggressively dragging the rake through the sand. Taking a more relaxed approach not only works, it also means if the crab should get away, it should be with all its legs and claws intact and without any holes in its shell or other damage. It will live to fight (and breed) another day.
Crabbing at Thompson Beach can be a lot of fun, but also has the potential to do significant damage in the area, both in the water and out of it. Pick up some more tips on caring for Thompson Beach.
Salmon Trout (Juvenile salmon)
One of the most commonly caught fish at Thompson Beach is salmon trout – a highly underrated table fish in my view!
They’ll take whitebait, bluebait, pippies and blood worms and also lures.
The trick to cooking salmon trout in my opinion is one that might not appeal to many. Only bleed the fish – don’t gut it, don’t scale it. Rub plenty of salt on it and then bake it without foil or on a BBQ. Once cooked the skin will easily peel away and the flesh will separate from the bones.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it :). I initially balked at trying them this way, but was very glad I did.
Other fish species
Other species of fish that can be caught at Thompson Beach include whiting, mullet and flathead.
A note on tides
When fishing in the Thompson Beach area, take close note of the tides. Vast sand and mud flats are uncovered at low tide and if you get too engrossed in your crabbing and walk out too far, you may find you’ll have a rather long, wet walk back.
Also a regular occurrence are “dodge” tides, when the waters are relatively stationary. The height of a high tide can vary quite a bit at other times.