Bait to Plate

Kev Collins

Well known Restauranter and co-owner of Fish D'vine & The Rum Bar in Airlie Beach. When Kev's not working he's out fishing in the amazing food bowl of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in his tinnie in the estuaries crabbing! His blog imparts wisdom, tales and info on all things fishing and food.

The Mud Crab Drought is over

The annual Mud Crab drought is finally over. Every year, subject to weather conditions, the majority of our Queensland Mud Crabs head to sea, as far out as the Great Barrier Reef, to spawn and the crab drought starts. For such an iconic North Queensland staple which features so heavily both on our menu and in our marketing it is a difficult time of year. We are typically very busy, deal with a massive influx of Chinese Visitors during “Golden Week” in October and everyone wants “Muddies”. More particularly they want Chilli Crab at Fish D’Vine and it kills me. This year prices at the Sydney Fish Market topped $75 a kg and every crab caught between Darwin and Gladstone was Sydney bound. One morning I even jumped in the Ute and drove to Rockhampton and back, a round trip of 1200 kilometres just to pick up 50 live crabs at the “bargain price” of $49 a kilo. It makes it hard when we have a reputation for Chilli Crab for $59 when the crabs are costing me $50 each. In season the supply outstrips demand and the price will drop to under $20. Every year we stress, and every year, usually early in December the “drought” breaks, the “Muddies” come back and the chefs, the front of house staff and the customers are all happy again. Chinese visitors come to North Queensland for the seafood and really don’t understand “out of season”. We have been using beautiful Bay Bugs this year to make up the shortfall, doing them the same Chilli or Black Pepper style as the crabs and while the Bugs have been great, there is nothing quite like a North Queensland Mud Crab. Welcome home boys; we have missed you.