I watched an outdoor fishing and hunting show the other day and some amusing material caught my eye. The show depicted snorkelers in wet suites baiting the bed of a small reservoir in Idaho and then catching them. They would dive down as deep as reasonable and then come up with 2 or three at a time. Having caught crayfish, or crawfish, or crawdads, in my youth I was surprised at the effort they were putting into catching these little critters, and ultimately not ending up with much of a catch. Not to name any specific river; but many, most notably the Snake River, are quite literally crawling with the little buggers. I’ve been swimming and boating at many lower elevation reservoirs and lakes and have seen additional creatures in many of them.
If you were like me and my relatives, you probably hunted them in the most degraded and efficient way possible. My uncle taught me how to walk the shallow streams of Idaho and spot them. He showed me how they flee in reverse. We would put an empty margarine tub in the water behind them and literally shew them into it with hand motions. It never hurt to flip a rock or two either. On the shore we kept a 5 gallon water filled bucket which quickly accumulated the little mini lobsters. But that was just Idaho style catching when I was young.
Idaho fish and game has this to say about these delicious little buggers:
“Crawfish or crayfish or crawdads are found throughout Idaho. We have identified at least 4 species of the Genus Pacifastacus that are found from small higher elevation streams to lowland lakes and the Snake River as it flows out of Idaho. If you want to catch crayfish legally in Idaho, you need a valid fishing license, or be young enough not to require one. They are typically caught in a minnow or crayfish trap that is baited with some food for them to eat. Horses don’t fit well into the traps, so chicken gizzards or fish parts are commonly used as bait. All traps must have a tag bearing the owner’s name and address. It is legal to fish with up to 5 traps no larger than 18″ x 12″ x 12″ (see page 7 of the 2000-2001 fishing rules for more information). Crayfish are found in the Boise area rivers. Places that have abundant crayfish (the Snake River and impoundments from Idaho Falls to Hells Canyon) also have commercial fishing allowed after the purchase of the appropriate fishing license.”
Check out your local laws if you are interested in trapping them. If not for commercial use there are very clear limits on size and quantity of traps, licenses required, permissible baiting, and frequency for checking your traps. Traps can be purchased at most outdoors or sporting goods stores.
“They are mostly found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, and which have shelter against predators. Most crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water.”
“Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the body of a crayfish is edible. In most prepared dishes, such as soups, bisques and étouffées, only the tail portion is served.”
How did you catch these buggers when you were young? If you’ve used traps share some info? Thanks.
Check out http://gardenofeaden.blogspot.com/2011/08/how-to-catch-crayfish.html for some great info.
If you want some info for building a trap, check out http://my.opera.com/trapperarne/blog/show.dml/711642.