So you want to be the most popular person in your family or friendship group. Having the ability to catch lobsters is a sure fire way to elevate your social standing within those groups.

In Victoria we are blessed. Not only do we have some of the best scuba Diving territory on the planet in and around Port Phillip Heads (shhhhh;), but we are permitted to take lobster by hand on scuba. It is a very sustainable way of fishing. The uneducated may think that taking cray on Scuba is easy, but those that know and those that have done, know it is definitely not the case. This “Cray Diving for Dummies” – Scuba Diving for Lobster guide is designed to give the inexperienced a start. regularly schedules Cray dives during the open season which opens Wednesday NOV16th. You can see RedBoats schedule under the “Book Scuba Diving” tab.

I once heard a description of cray catching as follows; “it is like having to get a crazy rabid cat out from under a sofa and put it into a plastic bag with one hand.” Well now that you have been scared off lets start with the very basics.

The rules of the game

Open Season for Lobster begins on November the 16th every year and runs through to June 1st when season closes for females and then September the 15th when season for males closes. (Correct for 2017 at time of publication) Most cray catching aficionados take the 16th of November off from work every year. It is best to familiarise yourself with the current rulings at the Fisheries website. There are many items that need to be adhered to such as catch limits, minimum sizes, tail clipping prior to landing. Please read the Fisheries information in its entirely and become very familiar with it.


What you will need:

Scuba Gear. If you don’t already own your own gear, speak to your reputable dive shop. They can assist you with purchasing or hiring equipment.

Appropriate diving experience. It is important that you have more than just a few shore dives under your belt. Be comfortable in your ability and certification to dive at the required sites. If unsure, speak to your local dive shop or contact Redboats. Both will be more than happy to assist with the selection of sites and associated weather conditions.

A valid fishing licence. This can be obtained from Fisheries Victoria. One year is $35 and three years is $90. I suggest you save a copy of this on your phone once purchased. Some people laminate a hard copy and carry it with them. You will also need cray tags which can be obtained from VR Fish. HERE

A catch bag – one that is easy to open and close with one hand. A zip at the bottom of the bag is very helpful.

A torch – Does not need to be bright, infact too bright may scare the crays away.

A cray measurer – Obtainable by phoning fisheries (they will send you one out) Redboats also carries spare measurers on the boats.

Gloves – Need to be sturdy – Some kevlar coated gloves work well, however I have seen riggers gloves used with some success. The main thing is for the gloves to provide protection and to provide grip.

The Battlefield

Once you have all of the gear, you have to decide an appropriate location to give yourself the best chance. Catching Lobster is fobidden in marine parks. If shore diving, it is important to take note of weather conditions and only dive if appropriate. If diving from a boat, a reputable and knowledgable skipper will be able to point you in the right direction of a section of reef that will yield a cray or two.

Once you are in the water, you need to cover as much territory as possible whilst trying to keep your heart rate and breathing to a relaxed level. Crays like to hide in a spot that offers them protection from predators. Some like to hide behind kelp. It is best to use your torch sparingly, not shining direct into the ledges so as to intimidate the crays. If you flash your torch along a ledge you should be able to see the flash of orange briefly if there is a cray there.

The Battle

Once you locate a cray it is best not to rush in most instances, however every catching attempt is different. You will learn as you go. Every time you attempt and fail, make sure you learn from the experience and take that knowledge into the next battle.

If you see a cray in a ledge, don’t rush. If it is under-size, leave it and move on. If it is of good size, get your breathing and heart rate back down to a calm level. Whilst you are doing this, prepare. The first thing that I do is look for another cray, as where there is one cray, there is quite often another. The alternate cray may be bigger, easier to get, or have nowhere to retreat to if you scare it off. Once you have decided which cray you are going to go after, it is time to plan. Get your bag ready. Sometimes it is best to give your bag to your buddy. Ensure you have enough bottom time and air left to attempt the catch. Do not go after the cray if it means you will exceed your dive plan.

If you are the supporting buddy holding the bag, do not think that you are helping by shining the torch on the cray for the catcher. It may scare the cray off. You will not be popular once you get back on the boat.

Then you need to get into position. Whatever hand I am going to attempt to go for the cray with, I position that shoulder as close to the cray as possible. I move very slowly so as not to spook the cray, watching the cray for movement back into the ledge. Sometimes you have to move quickly, other times you may have your fingers millimetres from the horns before you strike. Every battle is different. With practice you will develop your own technique and know when you move fast and when to move slow. It is very important that you do not attempt to pull on the crays antennae, as they break off very easily and not only will it mean the loss of your catch, it causes undue damage to the cray. Aim to get a firm grip on the crays horns.

After you have a firm grip on the horns, it is time to pull the cray out. Everything about the design of a cray says, “I don’t want to move forward”. Sometimes to give a quick push then pull can be effective, just like off-balancing the opposition during a tug-of-war game.

Once you have the cray out of the ledge, DO NOT CELEBRATE! It is time to get in into the bag. If now unsure about the size or the sex, measure and identify, open the bag and place the cray inside as best as you can. It can sometimes be a battle. Close the bag over your wrist and then release the cray and slide your hand out. High five your buddy.

Once you get back to shore or the boat, make sure you clip the tail as per the description as per Fisheries requirements.

Share this article with your friends and Happy Diving and Catching. regularly schedules Cray dives during the open season which opens Wednesday NOV16th. You can see RedBoats schedule under the “Book Scuba Diving” tab.