There's nothing quite as satisfying as diving down amongst a bed of rocks and weed, swimming into a dark cave sometimes the length of your body, shining your torch into a crevice and peering in to see a Godzilla Crayfish in all its mighty staring back at you from the dark - ripe for the taking!
For many spearos, Crayfish hunting is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying types of diving. It is made better only by the fact that you are pretty much revered by all your non-diving friends and family who are endlessly amazed at the fact you can pluck one of the tastiest (and most expensive) critters from the ocean and serve it up for all to enjoy! It's known to be the fastest way to make lifelong friends, and impress your in-laws.
So it's around this time of year, when September 15 is approaching, that the anxiety starts to kick in for us Melbourne divers - Crayfish season is drawing to a close for 2 months!
Don't stress though, while Crayfish are certainly one incredible bonus of diving in our Southern waters there are plenty of other tasty treats to be found.
Scallops are just as impressive to put on the table as Crayfish, and just as tasty too! Diving for Scallops around Melbourne is a great way to improve your bottom time as you scour the sandy weedy ocean floor for the dark crack of a scallops lip protruding from the sand. Once you've found them, simply scoop them up with your hand and pop them into a catch bag - easy! And with a possession limit of 100, and no minimum size limit, you can really make the hunt worthwhile. Spearfishing Melbourne waters doesn't always need to involve a speargun - anyone can get out and look for scallops!
Some say that this delicacy isn't everyone's cup of tea... we say that they just haven't tried it cooked correctly! Abalone really takes on the flavour of anything you put with it. Try slicing it as thinly as you can, and lightly frying it off in a hot pan with melted butter and garlic - delicious! You can also cut thin strips and crumb them (flour, egg, crumbs) for abalone chips! Our mouths are watering just thinking about it...
Hunting for Abalone is another great bonus of diving Melbourne, or Australia's Southern waters in general. But you definitely need to read your local regulations as the permitted recreational collection days, size limits and open/closed seasons changes with different locations. If you're diving around Melbourne or diving in Victoria, we recommend downloading the DiveVic app - a great resource for checking local regulations.
If you want to head out diving for Abalone it is a requirement that you carry an Ab tool (not just a knife) and a measuring device. You'll also need a catch bag to put your catch in as you swim around.
The elusive Snapper are the pinnacle of almost every diver's fish goals. If you want to test your diving in Melbourne, hunting Snapper could be your next challenge. Paul Roso, renowned nationwide as the Snapper Whisperer, presented a live talk for our Sydney spearfishing customers on hunting Snapper. You can watch the talk here if you want to learn how to spearfish Snapper like a pro:
Lobster Mornay Recipe
Alas, all is not lost just yet and at the time of writing you do still have four weeks left to hunt the mighty southern Crayfish! If you do manage to find some crayfish, we're here to help you impress with some incredible crayfish recipes.
First up is the traditional but ever-impressive Lobster Mornay recipe. Don't let the fanciness of the dish deter you, it is actually very straight forward to make!
- Cut your whole crayfish in half - we find using a serrated bread knife makes this an easier task. Once your Crayfish has been cut pull all of the guts out of the head, pull out the waste line from the body, and then remove the white meaty flesh from the crayfish tail. Be careful not to separate the head from the tale shell though!
- Pop the crayfish shell into the oven for 15 minutes or until it begins to cook and turn red
- While the crayfish shell is in the oven, cut the crayfish meat into bite-sized chunks and fry off in some garlic and butter until sealed. You don't need to cook it completely yet as it will be going back into the oven.
- Make a bechemel/white sauce with butter, flour and milk. Add some garlic, salt and pepper to it
- Place the cooked crayfish into the cooked crayfish shells, and top with the white garlic sauce and some cheese
- Place back in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown
Crayfish Pasta Recipe
As far as Crayfish Recipes go, or pasta recipes in general, this is a favourite for us by owner of Adreno tim Neilsen! But you don't need crayfish for this recipe, in fact it's just as enjoyable to substitute the crayfish for fish or prawns. Don't be turned off by the addition of Anchovies either, it adds a salty flavour to the rich tomato base - trust us, just try it!
- Boil the crayfish heads in water to create a stock (optional for extra flavour) and then add the pasta and cook to directions
- Cook bite-sized chunks of crayfish in butter and garlic. Set aside.
- Cook tomatoes and anchovies until tomatoes have reduced and softened enough to break up with a spoon into a paste/saucey base
- Add lemon zest, chilli and parsley
- Stir in cooked pasta and crayfish. Serve with parmesan cheese
So there you have it - while diving for crayfish in Melbourne is one of the pinnacles of living in such a great city, don't be too disheartened by the fact there's only one month left to get in the water. Simply switch up your game and target some scallops, abalone, or the elusive Snapper.
Safe diving and we'll see you soon at our Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne dive store!