How to Catch Western Rock Lobster

rfw-lobster

Other names

Panulirus Cygnus, lobster, spiny lobster, rock lobster, crayfish and western crayfish.

Description

Western rock lobsters are not usually mistaken for other species as their distributions do not overlap significantly. The only species they may be mistaken for are the southern rock lobster, although the western rock lobster can be distinguished by two prominent horns on its forehead that extend past the front of their head. They possess the typical body shape of other lobsters and are brown to red in colour, although when they shed their exoskeleton they are very pale in colour and known as whites. Western rock lobster can reach sizes of up to 5kg, although most are caught at less than 2kg.

wrlobster

WA distribution

Found between Exmouth in the north and Walpole in the south. They are inhabit inshore and offshore reefs, with larger individuals preferring deeper offshore reefs and are found under ledges or inside caves.

Rigs and Techniques

The most common methods for fishing western rock lobster are by diving and potting. Diving can be undertaken with compressed air or by free diving and searching under ledges or in caves for lobsters. Once located, it’s a matter of slipping a snare around the tail of the lobster without brushing its antennae. A snare can be bought or home-made from a slip knot of plastic-covered electrical wire attached to a pole. Then the lobster will retreat backwards and snare itself.
Potting involves leaving baited pots (attached to a float) to soak on a good patch of reef. Old fish heads are a good bait to use for the rock lobster.

Trial and error will tell you how long to set the pots for, you want to leave them long enough that the lobsters get the chance to enter the pot but not so long that they can find their way out or predators like wobbegong sharks can find their way in.

Recreationally caught western rock lobster should have the central part of the tail fin clipped in order to avoid black market trading.