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How to catch marron in south west WA
"Not only are these guys great eating, but getting out there with the family or a bunch of mates on to some river system in the southwest for a couple days of camping and marroning or walking around a dam snaring is second to nothing else in my opinion."
Author: Peter Goulding

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vernia calipers are a great way to make sure your marron is size

I love the summer months especially January because at noon on the 16th the marron season opens and this year it has been extended a little to noon on the 8th of February. Marroning is unique to Western Australia and for those out there that have not tried it; you do not know what you are missing. Not only are these guys great eating, but getting out there with the family or a bunch of mates on to some river system in the southwest for a couple days of camping and marroning or walking around a dam snaring is second to nothing else in my opinion. They are found in our river systems throughout the southwest of W.A. from the Hutt River north of Geraldton, right throughout the great southern, and also in the dams such as Harvey and Waroona.

Areas such as Harvey, Waroona and all major public dams are snare only areas. Snaring is great fun. What you use is a long poll or an old fishing rod with the runners taken off and at the end you place a snare. There are many ways of doing this but one popular way is to use a piece of white plastic coated electrical wire, tie it to the end of your poll, then at the other end make a loop with a slip knot. The idea is that you walk up to the marron very carefully and slip the loop under the animal’s tail. As you lift up the marron it will naturally flick backwards tightening the loop around its tail and bingo you got him. This method takes a bit of practice but it is great fun. Although you can not just go out there willy nilly taking these creatures. First of all you must be licensed and your are only allowed to take them during the season as they do have legal sizes to abide by.

Harvey Weir

These creatures are generally a night time animal although in some rivers I have found them to like mornings and others late afternoon. You will just have to work it out for yourself for where you are. I was camping and marroning with my family a few years back now down on a river in the southwest corner and this father and son team turned up and he was adamant that the only time to catch marron was through the night. So the pair worked all night without sleep for nothing, they did not even get a sniff of a marron. When I got up in the morning I was greeted with “Well we are going now, there is nothing here - you are wasting your time in this area”. That was at 7am. By 10am one of my daughters and myself had our bag limit in exactly the same place he had been fishing. With daylight saving in we now have an extra hour of daylight in the evening. When the season opens it will make some of those dams close to Perth that we are allowed to marron in more viable to get to after work, if you are keen enough and do not mind a late night or a bit of a drive.

As I mentioned earlier some areas are snare only. You are also allowed to take them by drop net or scoop net but you are only allowed to use one of these methods at a time. If you were to use drop nets you are permitted to use six per person. They must have the proper marron mesh on the base with an internal mesh dimension greater that 32mm by 80mm and have a maximum diameter of 650mm. When using these nets I like to bait them up with a mixture of chook laying pellets and a bit of sheep’s liver or heart. I

Marron with eggs must be returned ASAP to ensure the future of the fishery

usually place it in a piece of old stocking and then cover it with a bit of small mesh bird wire to stop the marron and other natives in our waterways ripping the baits to bits. We are also permitted to use one scoop net per person. It must be made of wire and have a maximum of 6 vertical wires and no more than 75 individual rectangles. To attract the marron you place baits around the area that you are working. Most people use laying pellets in small stacks in the shallows. This will attract the animals out of the deep water so you can snare them.  Do remember though, you do not own the place and there may be other people in your area so respect people's privacy.

There are, as usual with managed fisheries, rules to abide by.  This year the legal size has been increased to 80mm across the carapace and in trophy waters it is 90mm. Trophy waters are Harvey and Waroona Dams and the Hutt River up North. There are water catchment areas such as The Shannon River and its tributaries, and places in the Margaret River that are closed to marroning; check with fisheries to make sure you are fishing legal waters. Females carrying eggs or young marron must be returned to the water as quickly as possible and when snaring, care must be taken not to go knocking eggs or young off. I have some self imposed rules that I abide by.

One is very large females I return immediately to the water. As far as I am concerned they are the future of the fishery. Sexing is quite simple all you have to do is turn the animal over and if it is a male it will have two little penises between the last two legs before the carapace joins to the tail. The female will appear to have nothing. I also use a pair of vernia calipers, this way there is no mistakes on the size of the animal.

This image shows the correct way to approach your prey, a gilgie

Not only are there marron in our waters, we also have gilgies and koonacs which are native to our waterways, and there is also the yabby which is an introduced species. I have yet to come across yabbies in any streams which is a good thing but have found them in lots of other places. As for the other two, there are loads of them out there and many a child has had hours of fun catching them but be careful out there. Get to know the differences, I found some children mucking around in a creek just recently catching gilgies, or yabbies as they called them, but in their net was a mixture of all three natives of which two were undersize marron out of season. I explained to them the differences and they put the marron back; if you are not sure Fisheries have a great publication called “Identifying Fresh Water Crayfish”. The easiest way to tell is to look on the tail of the marron; there are 5 panels and the middle one is called the telson and this has a couple of little spines on it, this is unique to the marron.

When you get out there and find a top camping spot, do not get too particular about where you marron. I have caught this delicacy in places you would not think of. In little creeks that are just about storm water drains. Then again I have caught them in deep holes and water that is so dark you think nothing would live in it.  It is always worth having a look around; in the deep water in front of a water fall, in the entrance of a small creek, or around a freshly fallen tree in a river as they seem to be attracted by the debris. A sandbar in the river with deep water on each side is a good spot to put bait for snaring. Walking across a fallen Karri tree and dropping a net under it, or in the middle the river, are also worth trying. Sometimes you may pick up one good specimen in a spot and return in half an hour later to find nothing, so move somewhere else.  On the other hand you may find a spot that just keeps going and going but after a while I would leave that alone so we can keep that for tomorrow.

This is a homemade snare which is perfect for chasing marron, gilgies and koonacs

There is no need to be greedy out there as this fishery is unique so preserve our stocks. That is why Fisheries have imposed bag limits. There is a daily bag limit of 10 and a possession limit of 20 per license holder except in trophy waters which have a bag and possession limit of 5.

So come January 16 go get a license and find yourself a top spot in our southwest and settle in for an enjoyable weekend in the bush with a great feed of a creature found nowhere else in the world.

As for those people that think they are above the law and go poaching out of season. As far as I am concerned you are stealing off the rest of the law abiding citizens of WA. If Fisheries catch you I hope they charge you to the full extent of the law.