I arrived in the small town of Triabunna on a Sunday afternoon. The Tassielink bus and driver, Nicole, safely delivered me to the front door of the Spring Bay Hotel where I would be staying for three nights.

Cray - Triabunna Tasmania
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Triabunna, east coast Tasmania

Cray - Fishing, East Coast Tasmania
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Fisherman looking to catch a cray: Triabunna

Cray Fishing: Dying Profession?

by Roger Findlay

As men do, I found my way to the bar for a refreshing, cleansing ale. It was only 2.30 and I didn’t want to give it too much of a nudge so I engaged conversation with a huge local man with a broad English accent. He lived alone and was cooking wallaby tails for tea! As well as drinking plenty at the pub, he intended having five long necks of home brewed beer with his tea. No doubt images of flying, tail-less wallabies haunted him all that night!

A chunky man with a weather-beaten red face came through the door and his mutterings with the giant from Carnforth gave me the inkling that he was a cray fisherman. He had only called-in for one mid strength and to check the footy tips but it still gave me time to organise a story and photos.

All Things Cray Fishing

I had arranged to meet him the following day down at his mooring on the other side of the bridge. He said it would be 10:00am and he kept his word. First of all he had to go down the road to buy bait and ice and this left me time to talk with an “old timer” parked next to his own cray boat. Now this guy was really weathered. As he sucked on one Gasper after another, he was probably smoked too!

Cray - Fisherman Craig, Triabunna
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Cray fisherman Craig: Triabunna

Cray - Bait for Fishing
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Cray bait

In a few minutes I had my story and I was the expert on all things cray fishing! I was shocked to hear of the costs involved and, as my wizened mate said, it’s almost impossible for a young person just starting out to buy into the game.

Cray Fishing: Boats, Bait and Big Bucks

Craig arrived with his ice and bait. Time didn’t seem to matter that much and there was plenty to discuss conditions, destinations and wealthy operators with larger boats.  My questions were important to me but to these professionals they must have seemed corny. How much was the bait, the fuel and the licenses? I needed to know.

Just in case you’re thinking about it, I’ve made a list of some of the costs. Let me know if you still want to go ahead as I know of someone that wants to get out! At present, a commercial cray fisherman gets around $70 per kg.

Craig’s List: The Cost of Cray Fishing

His outlay is as follows:

  • Cray boat +- $300,000 (second hand)
  • Pot license $30,000 each minimum (Craig had approx. 40)
  • Boat license fee (unknown)
  • Mooring fees (unknown)
  • Bait & Ice – $500 per trip
  • Diesel Fuel – 1300 litres per trip (est. $2000)
  • Maintenance costs – ongoing

Eventually, Craig got away. He was alone and would be at sea for the best part of a week. He intended dropping pots near Bicheno but also had a contingency plan where he would head to Clarke Island south of Flinders Island but there was no guarantee of a bumper catch of cray.

Cray - Fishing Trip
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Cray fishing boat: Triabunna,Tasmania

Cray - Fishing Boat
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Triabunna: fishing boat

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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Map: Cray Fishing from Triabunna, Tasmania