Giant mudcrabs crawling through the mangrove forests and rumbling down the port from the upper reaches of the Karuah River and Tilligerry Creek. 

More common west of Soldiers Point the muddy is much sought after and can be caught by setting a crab trap in the shallows among the mangroves. North Arm Cove, Carrington, Swan Bay and Little Swan Bay all hold excellent numbers of mud crabs.

Mud crabs, muddies, mangrove crabs, black crabs or pungas – they are all the same crab and Port Stephens is the home for the biggest mud crabs I have ever seen.

The laws around crabbing in Port Stephens differ from others in the state. For the last seven years, the witches hat method of catching crabs has been banned to protect our turtle population, with fantastic results.  Crab traps cannot have an entry wider than 32 cm. This law is also designed the turtles. Since the local laws were put in place I have not heard of a single turtle that has drowned as a result of crab trap entanglement. 

Rules do apply when setting crab traps. Ask your local Bait and Tackle store operator for all the details.


Fishing writer, author and radio presenter John “Stinker” Clarke can be heard weekly, throughout NSW, on popular ABC Regional Radio fishing program “The Big Fish”. Check him out on or send an email to with your information and questions. 

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