Without a doubt the most requested contribution to any Christmas table is the crayfish. Their hefty price tag make them a luxury out of reach for most kiwis, but their abundance along the coastline means they’re relatively easy pickings for anyone with a
Crayfish are a great introduction into underwater hunting. Here are my top five ways of supplying the table centrepiece:
I once heard the saying “you can’t ride two horses with one arse” and it applies perfectly to spearfishing and crayfishing. While you might luck onto the odd cray while you’re snooping, if you’re serious about finding some crays you’re best off to ditch the gun for a while and concentrate all your energy on doing just that.
TAKE YOUR TIME
It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust looking into a dark hole so don’t rush past. When you do find a cray don’t lunge straight in. They’re seldom alone and a good diver can grab two or three on a breath if they work in the right order. Look at where a cray might be able to escape to and plan your assault in advance.
JUST SMASH ‘EM
Once you do decide to grab, the best strategy is hard and fast. As soon as you touch those feelers the cray is going to flick back real quick so you need to be quicker. Aim to either get your hand over the top of its back or under the base of its horns. If you have to hit it from the side, fine but you’ll probably knock some legs off. Aim for a few inches behind the cray to allow for its attempt to get away.
4 KEEP YOUR SNORKEL IN YOUR MOUTH
While Spearfishing it’s best to spit your snorkel out (less noise and lower chance of inhaling water while recovering from a blackout) but while crayfishing that’s definitely not the case. Surfacing from a cray dive you might have a cray in each hand preventing you from putting your snorkel back in. Another classic is having a finger pinched and coughing and spluttering on the surface with no snorkel while you battle to get him to release you.
5 SPEND MOST OF YOUR TIME ON THE BOTTOM
You simply will not spot crays from the surface. You need to get right down to the bottom and stick your head through kelp and under rocks. It is a very active form of diving and I’ll generally spend 20-30 seconds under water with about 10-20 seconds on the surface when I’m on a good spot.