Reclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) are found most commonly in Australia’s warm freshwater impoundments.
Redclaw are native to Queensland and the NT but have been translocated elsewhere, with good numbers existing in some NSW waters.
It is possible they now exist in every state except Tasmania, as they tolerate a wide temperature range, low oxygen levels and crowded conditions.
As well as lakes and ponds, redclaw live happily in creeks, rock pools and fast-flowing rivers.
They are omnivorous, eating meat and plants.
Queensland dams are the most productive redclaw locations, but they are common in some NT waters, and in WA’s Lake Kununurra.
They were found in NSW’s Emigrant Creek Dam in 2004 and Lake Ainsworth in 2011, and may now exist widely in the NSW northern rivers region, with aquaculture facilities in Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Kempsey Shire, Port Macquarie-Hastings and Camden.
Redclaw spread as people illegally stocked them in places they were not natively found.
Their large size, good flavour and lack of dam-destroying burrowing behaviour (unlike southern yabbies) makes them popular.
Redclaw numbers fluctuate in impoundments from season to season, varying from super-abundant to hard pickings.
For best results, try to check redclaw stocks at a given location before making a trip.
Usually worthwhile numbers of redclaw are easy to find, and they can be readily caught in baited traps.
They can be trapped from shore in some locations, but a boat makes finding them easier.
Strict regulations apply to the type of gear used, partly to prevent animals such as turtles drowning in traps.
Redclaw fishing rules differ in each state.
Spearing them at night is popular in the NT, keeping in mind the crocodile risk.
Redclaw eyes shine red under a torchlight, making them easy to find, although a bait can be used to bring them to the spearer.
Redclaw crayfish can be boiled or grilled immediately after being caught, but some folk let redclaw purge themselves in a bin of clean water first.
They can be cooked and eaten many ways.
The tail can be peeled much like a prawn and the meat eaten on its own or in salads, or in sandwiches.
Some external videos about catching redclaw crayfish are featured below.