Scott’s Species – Marron – the craze for freshwater crays

Marron

Eating: 5 stars

It has been some years since I marroned with a purpose, but the memories of chasing them in our beautiful southern forests remain strong and it is something I probably should try again before too long.

I fondly recall a great night spent on the old Harvey Weir, before it was flooded to become what is now Harvey Dam, chasing them not long after I got my driver’s licence. We parked the car by the water, started a fire and then threw in some pellets.

Using drop nets, we ended up with a nice feed of marron and enjoyed a night to remember over a few cold drinks. Life was simpler back then…but I digress. There are few more uniquely West Australian fishing experiences than catching marron.

A juvenile marron (left) and Graham Stewart holding the prized catch that so many marroners chase!

Found from Esperance all the way north to Hutt River, past Geraldton, but endemic to the South-West, they are our own freshwater crayfish and despite having to endure some serious challenges in recent years, they continue to offer a great fishing option in many of our freshwater waterways during a limited season.

Dropping rainfall and reduced river flows due to increased community demands on water have meant marron have faced some real habitat issues, but the good news is that current stocking programs supported by Recfishwest are helping boost numbers and might even ultimately lead to longer seasons.

On a trip to Pemberton last summer to chase trout, I saw heaps of marron in the Warren River and Lefroy Brooks, which was hopefully a good sign for the future. Although I haven’t chased marron in recent years, they are a common encounter when trout fishing.

I remember standing on a rock in knee-deep water at Waroona Dam and being surprised when a large marron emerged from under that rock. It was not quite “methuselah” of the Freshwater Fishing in South West Australia book fame, but it was a beauty. I also remember foul hooking a big one on a Celta at Cascades on the Lefroy Brook one year. After admiring it for a few seconds I let that one go.

Locations stocked in recent years include Waroona Dam, Harvey Dam, Big Brook Dam and Logue Brook Dam. A licence is required to catch marron during the January-February season. There are detailed rules around bag and size limits which vary in different locations, with Harvey Dam, Waroona Dam and the Hutt River regarded as ‘trophy waters’ with tighter regulations to enhance the chance of catching trophy specimens.

Matt Pullella trying his luck marroning in a small stream.

Some locations are also snare only, including Big Brook Dam, Logue Brook Dam and Harvey Dam, with the full list and the latest comprehensive rules available at www.fish.gov.au.

There are three main ways of catching marron and a baited drop net is the most simple and effective, especially in deeper water such as the Warren River. A simple stocking filled with chook pellets can be used as bait, or other meat baits like chicken necks or fish. However, I always reckon the greatest fun to be had is in stalking them in the shallows with a snare or scoop. This is even more fun with a good headlamp at night. The reward, of course, is a feed of one of the tastiest crustaceans on the planet!

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