Murray spiny freshwater crayfish

A little bit about Murray spiny freshwater crayfish

Murray River crayfish, Murray crays, freshwater crays, spiny freshwater crays, spinies and prickle backs are all nicknames given to the Murray spiny freshwater crayfish.

Where to find Murray spiny freshwater crayfish

One of several species of spiny freshwater crayfish found in Victoria the Murray spiny freshwater crayfish can be found at numerous locations throughout Northern Victoria.

Murray spiny freshwater crayfish are a slow growing species and can take many years to attain the minimum size. Despite being abundant across most of Victoria's northern waters; due to a number of factors the species only reach harvest sizes where food is plentiful.

If you're looking to catch and keep Murray spiny freshwater crayfish, we recommend the mid to lower reaches of our larger rivers such as the Ovens and Goulburn River systems.

Fishing regulations

In Victoria, you need a fishing licence (unless you're exempt) to legally catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish. Licences can be purchased online here.

There are several important regulations to be aware of when it comes to catching Murray spiny freshwater crayfish.

You can only keep Murray spiny freshwater crayfish with a minimum carapace length of 10cm and a maximum of 12cm. The carapace is measured from the back of the eye socket to the nearest part of the rear edge of the carapace (where the tail joins the main body shell).

You are required to carefully measure your Murray spiny freshwater crayfish to ensure they meet the sizing regulations. We produce special measuring devices to help you with this. Call our Customer Service Centre on 136 186 to get one for free.

Murray spiny freshwater crayfish have a bag and possession limit of two, meaning you can't take or possess more than two crustaceans per person on any one day whilst in on or next to Victorian Waters. There is a state-wide possession limit of four, meaning at no time while anywhere within the state of Victoria can you have more than 4 Murray spiny freshwater crayfish, regardless of your proximity to a waterway. Crays also need to be kept whole or in carcass form whilst in, on or next to inland Victorian waters.

Murray spiny freshwater crayfish also have a closed season commencing on 1 September and finishing on 31 May, during which these crays cannot be taken from waters north of the Great Dividing Range (see map below).

Map of the Great Dividing Range

It's important you stick to the rules otherwise you risk getting a fine and possible loss of your fishing equipment. For more information on the regulations, click here.

How to catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish

Murray spiny freshwater crayfish like a variety of different baits, including chicken and fish frames.

Knowing what equipment you can use to catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish is important. You need to know the water you're fishing in as this will depend on what type and the quantity of nets you can use.

Hoop nets, open top lift nets, baited lines (no hooks) and your own hands may all be used to catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish, depending on the location.


In most waters, the maximum amount of nets that can be used to catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish is 10. However, for the following specified waters, a maximum of 5 hoop nets per person may be used. No open top lift nets are to be used

Specified waters

  • The Goulburn River system (excluding Lake Eildon)
  • The Mitta Mitta River system (excluding Lake Dartmouth)
  • The Ovens River system
  • The Kiewa River system
  • Waranga Basin
  • Wodonga Creek
  • Ryans Creek
  • Carrol's Creek

The nets you're using also need to be labelled. Hoop nets and open top lift nets must be attached to a tag that remains above the water's surface with your full name and address written clearly

The nets pictured below are illegal, and cannot be used to catch Murray spiny freshwater crayfish in Victoria. The second two nets pictured are also illegal to possess anywhere in Victoria. At present, a person may possess up to three opera house nets (first image), however these are currently being phased out across Victoria in favour of open top lift nets.

Other important Murray spiny freshwater crayfish information

You can't take or possess female spiny freshwater crayfish with eggs, or remove their eggs. Female Murray spiny freshwater crayfish in berry (carrying eggs - pictured right) must be returned to the water immediately with the least possible injury or damage. Claws and legs must not be removed from illegal sized or crayfish in berry.

Remember to abide by the recreational boating regulations and if any illegal fishing activities are observed, contact the 13FISH (13 3474) reporting line.