Teaching people about the benefits and drawbacks of Red claw crayfish became a passion and an environmental crusade for the Dakabin local Steve Davies.
Red claw is a native Australian crayfish that flourishes in freshwater creeks and lakes. While Red claw makes for delicious eating and tastes similar to prawns or bugs, Steve Davies from Dakabin believes too many in unnatural waterways is not beneficial for the environment.
“We try to look after the environment and reduce the pest. They have seen what the carp can do, and we don’t want the same thing with the Red claw.”
Queensland fisheries recently declared the Red claw a pest in unnatural waters. Spreading via floods, Steve says Red claw damage the banks of lakes and rivers, gorging themselves on vegetation, particularly after heavy rains. This may lead to erosion of the shoreline and diminished water quality as the vegetation collapses.
“At Somerset dam, the whole shoreline has holes in it… and we don’t want a big muddy mess,” says Steve, who advises Red claw have reached plague proportions in unnatural waters in Townsville, citing one fisherman who caught 425 Red claw overnight.
An avid fisherman who’s won national sports fishing trophies and tagged freshwater fish for research, Steve, like most fishermen, has a tale or two. Such as when he ran a holiday houseboat aground while catching Trevally or catching an 89cm Flathead in the Gold Coast canals. Minutes after releasing the Flathead, he caught a second breeding female over 90 cm long.
Stories aside, Steve is looking to source government funding to educate people about Red claw. He considers Red claw fishing can offer social benefits. It’s a relaxing outdoor activity and an excellent antidote for anxiety and loneliness, common problems among seniors.
He plans to offer camping weekends away: “People can come together, learn about Red claw and the latest products, cook up a massive big wok with a couple of my chef buddies, have some yabby races, see who can get the most [Red claw] in their pots and have a fun weekend.”
For this retail sales manager turned fishing entrepreneur, posting educational fishing videos led to a massive following on social media. His videos about Red claw drew the most attention.
“People want to save money on the weekly food bill, and it helps control the pest,” he says of fishing Red claw. Unless you are using a fishing line, no permit is needed. “In the old days, we used to catch them with meat and string,” he says.
The popularity of Steve’s videos led to the start of a home-based online business selling Red claw pots and fishing gear. In response to his customers asking similar questions, Steve compiled an E-book on Red claw fishing tips. But his innovations didn’t stop there.
Utilising his engineering skills, Steve improved the standard Red claw pots, consulting with fisheries to ensure they met regulations. He incorporated robust struts and an upward-facing ring, meaning any crayfish entering the pot couldn’t escape. Steve also developed a multi-purpose pot, suited to both lakes and river systems, for people who fish in differing locations.
Ever the entrepreneur, Steve is continually looking to modify the design, saying he’s still learning about Red claw and its habits.
“We try to look after the environment and reduce the pest,” he says. “They’ve seen what the carp can do, and we don’t want the same thing with the Red claw.”
What’s Steve’s tip for anyone new to Red claw fishing? “Be wary of the claws. They cut like scissors,” he says, advising to pick them up from behind their head.