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tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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crawdad, crawfish, crayfish, mudbug, yabby, koura, acocil...

how do you catch them and where?
how do you use them?

my new home is on a river, and I'm trying to take advantage of that.  I don't have a lot of patience for sitting around fishing when I could be working on other projects, but dropping traps in doesn't take much time at all.

so far I've tried bacon, freezer burned beef, and freezer burned salmon for bait.  the traps that are soaking right now have steelhead roe in them that I picked up at the fishing hole just upriver.  I can't say how the roe will work, but I haven't caught more than four crawdads total with the other baits.

I see bits of shell and claw all over the place where I imagine the resident herons and raccoons have been feasting on them, so I know they're around.

any tips?
 
Robert Ray
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I use chicken necks or backs in my traps.
A friend uses cat food in cans with small holes poked in the sides.
 
                                
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Put your traps in slower water near the edge or in a small tributary. Some crawdads will build little towers of mudballs and can be pulled out with meat on a string.
 
tel jetson
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there's some protected still water that looked good.  there are some large rocks on the bottom that I figured would provide cover for the little critters.  the spot I chose is close to quite a few pieces of shell and claws, as well.  sounds like a slam dunk to me, but I'm unfortunately ignorant of crawdad habits.

haven't seen any mud ball towers, but the bank is mostly sandstone where I'm at, so there's not much raw material for that sort of construction.  I left town today, but I'll have a look at the traps tomorrow afternoon.
 
Haru Yasumi
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When I was a kid in Japan I used to catch crayfish with just a bucket and sometimes with a net.  Definitely not a very efficient way to do it but by the time I was bored I'd usually have caught several.  They swim backwards and if you don't disturb the water or cast a real obvious shadow you can usually see them in the shallower, still waters.
 
tel jetson
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checked the traps after three nights and I caught about twelve little fish that hang around on the bottom of the river.  zero crawdads.  when I had a peek after the first day, I thought I spotted a couple of crawdads in there.  maybe I just left them too long and they figured out how to escape.  there was still some roe left, though not much.
 
                                    
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Wire a chicken back or several chicken necks to the bottom of the trap. Set it in VERY slow moving ( to NOT moving water) .  Does the water cover the trap ?  Is the trap MADE for crawdads ?  Could be the openings are too big and they crawl right back out if it's a trap for something else.  Bait it with the chicken back (Wired) and if no luck; try one last time with chicken and add a tuna in oil can with holes punched in it. And if you don't get any with that; the herons have fished them all out ! 
 
tel jetson
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I'm giving up for the season.  rains over the last week have raised the level and speed of the river, so there aren't really any slow spots anymore.  I tried at least five different baits with no luck.  the traps are crawdad-specific.

my guess is that the return of native predators over the last few years has reduced crawdad numbers substantially from when my folks could fill up a bucket just wading around looking under rocks.

I'll probably try again next year.  I suppose I ought to get a fishing license, too, as I've seen several steelhead and a coho caught right in front of our place in just the last two days.  who knows how many were caught that I didn't see.
 
                          
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Has anyone had any experience raising crawfish for food in a green house aquaculture system?
 
                                
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I once saw a website where the crawdads were being grown in big...hive-like containers with folds of burlap where the wax combs would be. I wish I could find that site again.
 
                          
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Sustainable Living Tool Box for City Living has a four barrel aquaculture system with the 3rd and 4th barrel as a place for crawdads
 
tel jetson
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seems like a pretty good idea.  I think I'll try to incorporate that into the next greenhouse I build.
 
                          
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yeah, when they say barrels, they are referring to 55 gallon food clean. the second barrel can have up to five catfish as long as the 1st barrel has no water but lots of cattails, lettuce, etc to filter the water clean for the fish
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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When the water is a little more still, you might try re-arranging some rocks to form a sheltered place for them. Damming one side of the current partially, for example, could create an eddy, with a very still place at its center.

I tend to find them in eddies.
 
                      
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Our family takes a coffee can, punches holes all over it. Put a hole on each side of the can with a matching hole in the lid to thread ties through to retreive from water. Cut a hole about the size of a fifty cent piece near the edge on the lid for crawdad entry. The best bait we've used were the half hot dogs the kids dropped on the ground in the sun. I guess you dont need the kids to drop em- just leave them out until they are smelly & kinda green. Bologna works the same way. Put your bait in drop the can in an area of slow moving water & leave it all day or even over night. We always end up with more than we can eat so we then share with the folks around us & meet new friends!
 
                            
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Get a poodle (kidding) http://www.poodlehistory.org/PMISCCRB.HTM

Seriously, when I was little, we used to catch them by turning rocks over manually and picking them up right behind their big front legs... that way they couldn't pinch us. My brother was a pro at sitting on this little bridge wiggling his bare toes in the water and they would come after his toes! Then we could net them with a butterfly net. I never ate them, I had a couple in an aquarium for years, they were my "friends" and I couldn't see eating the relatives of my friends. Must have made it tough on my family Don't know that I could eat one now.. they remind me too much of scorpions and the thought of eating scorpions makes me sick!

We used "minnow traps" in our creek to catch bait minnows and frequently would have crawdads in those... as well as snakes and other critters. I never asked what happened to the male crawdads,but my family always released "pregnant" females (those with eggs or very newly hatched young under their tails).

We also caught them when fishing, sometimes they will just grab onto the bait and not let go. Been a few years ago...... memory... but it seems like we used hot dogs on strings sometimes to catch them with too.

I'd bet that crayfish skins/shells would provide an excellent source of calcium for chickens....
 
solomon martin
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If you are a hunter or have access to a butcher shop, find an intact rib cage, plug the neck hole, attach a rope and toss her in.  A little gory perhaps, but it is a ready made harvesting basket with the bait already attached.  The crawdads won't crawl out because they are too busy picking bones.
 
            
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When I was a child, living with my grandparents, my grandad and I used to go out to various mudholes and small ponds in northern Oklahoma and seine for crawdads.  We would get the occasional catfish, as well.  We would collect the crawdads and some minnows in a bucket of water with a lid and take them to the river to use for bait.  It's a hard to beat fishbait, especially on drop lines.  However, these methods may be illegal in Washington.  After all, this was in the mid-60's and out in the country.
 
                                                      
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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Tel,

wandered across this string and thought i'd rub my pennies together on the matter.

What type of trap are you using? Is is a store variety or one that you have made?

If you are an avid DIY'r I'll assume you have copied the store variety and will offer these helpful hints.

1. Increase the size of the funnel holes ever so slightly. as you might have been able to discern by seeing some of the wildlife remains the crawdads we have in this region can have some mighty big claws and the store variety traps are made specifically for the eastern seaboard and swamp daddies.

2. Bait placement. In all my years of crawdad foraging bait placement over type has sometimes been an issue. Any type of bait can be used as crawdads don't really care what they consume as long as it doesn't try to consume them first. Many times this is where people seem to have a head scratching moment. they'll check their traps after a good long soak and will find a trap empty of bait and perhaps a few smallish crawdads in the trap. Just lacing the bait to the trap and throwing it in is not the answer. They will happily sit on the outside of the trap and pick at the bait from the outside you want em to go in there after it. You need to wire that bait from two or three sides of the trap to suspend it equidistant from all sides of the trap thus forcing them in for their meal.

3. Location, location , location. You're on the Lewis river (lucky bastard) so finding a good spot should not be a problem. Most comments I have read here refer to a mud ball type of home and while yes this is true for many areas in crawdadding not so much for here in our region. For this area crawdads will congregate under large boulders around bridge pilings under submerged logs and such but by far their favorite habitat is a clay bank. If you can find near you a clay bank you're golden. This is where you're gonna find em. Even at this time of year you will be able to coax them out of their holes if there is the promise of a free meal in it for them just make sure you secure your trap well or a wayward downed tree will sweep it away.

As for how to prepare. Well i've always prepped em like crab or lobster. Boiled em up in plain water. My grandad used to run several good sized lengths or rosemary and sage in the boiling water then add the daddies after the herbs infused the brine. This imparted a real nice flavor to the meat in general. after that it was just wait till the minute screams died out and then it was snap the heads off and start shuckin'  the meat out. A quick dip in some drawn butter and well that's just good eatin'.

Hope the suggestions help ya out.

Happy foraging


 
tel jetson
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thatchickencoopguy wrote:
What type of trap are you using? Is is a store variety or one that you have made?

If you are an avid DIY'r I'll assume you have copied the store variety and will offer these helpful hints.


I was using a couple of traps my friend bought, which probably suffer from the problems you mention.  in the meantime, they were stolen off the river, so I couldn't use those again if I wanted to.

thatchickencoopguy wrote:
3. Location, location , location. You're on the Lewis river (lucky bastard) so finding a good spot should not be a problem. Most comments I have read here refer to a mud ball type of home and while yes this is true for many areas in crawdadding not so much for here in our region. For this area crawdads will congregate under large boulders around bridge pilings under submerged logs and such but by far their favorite habitat is a clay bank. If you can find near you a clay bank you're golden. This is where you're gonna find em. Even at this time of year you will be able to coax them out of their holes if there is the promise of a free meal in it for them just make sure you secure your trap well or a wayward downed tree will sweep it away.


no clay banks nearby.  the bank here is mostly sandstone.  there are some rocks around, though not really any large boulders.  some submerged logs.

as for my lucky location on the Lewis, you're welcome to come by and drop some traps in yourself.  though I might try to talk you into giving me a hand with some harebrained project or another.

I'll try again when the river calms down and try to take your advice.
 
                                                      
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Location: Portland, Oregon
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Tel,

Ah, sandstone. Well my thought on that is when the water goes down and is not so shrinkage inducing check the bank in a deep quiet pool/hole poke around for some holes but DO NOT stick your finger in there. You should find some as daddies will chip into sandstone if you do find some set the trap just above the burrows by about 10 feet and you'll get some trap activity. Another medium to look for is where the sandstone breaks into a more soilish bank here you'll have your largest concentration. again setting trap about 10 feet up from where you know or at least believe there are some lurking about.
Bummer about the traps coming up missing. <sigh> some peoples children I guess.
But hey with the loss of these it now allows you to try your hand at some DIY traps. They are fairly easy to produce with some welded wire mesh like the 1/2 inch square variety. It flexible enough to use and fashion into a trap. This was my medium of choice when I was a kid building them. I've seen the trap style that the swampers use down south and it's just that plastic window screen stuff. Again this is a regional thing and I would not use it in this area as the daddies we have here just cut that stuff and just haul the bait away.
As far as coming up for some down time I'll take that as an invite and will be happy to take you up on it when I have some free time.

And, hey when it comes to hairbrained  projects you're preaching to the choir. At the very least with two of picking each others brains we should be able to come up with some doozies. 

Peace and good luck

Enjoy  the sun today it's great even tho it's brisk outside
 
tel jetson
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thatchickencoopguy wrote:
Enjoy  the sun today it's great even tho it's brisk outside


check roger.
 
                  
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Location: South Carolina Zone 8
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I have both run traps for crawdads and caught them using a net with a line and bait. The biggest thing to remember is crawdads are most active at night so fishing for them at night or setting a trap before dark and running them after sunrise is best.

Traps work but you run the risk of someone stealing them but there are Drawbacks. Crawdads are territorial so the smaller the trap the less crawdads you will catch due to them guarding their territory. As well the minute the bait runs out in a trap crawdads are looking for an exit or worse yet turn to cannibalism. In other words use a bigger trap with lots of bait for lots of crawdads. Along the lines of a bait for traps crawdads eat meat plain and simple. They have a preference to fish as it is more natural but they are not picky. That said the use of beef, pork and chicken is not recommended anywhere alligators swim. There is nothing like finding a mangled trap to wake a person up to the fact you are not top of the food chain when on the water. Of course the use of fish does not mean gators will leave the trap alone but it is not like candy to them either.

The method I prefer because it's fun while traps are like work is simply a line with meat tied to one end and a net. You simply throw out the bait and bring it in slow slipping the net under the bait and crawdad before pulling it from the water (this works for crabs too). You should have a crawdad or two in the net and you toss the bait back out to repeat it. I have also done what my girls call "doodling" where we take a flashlight on a dark night in clear water spot a crayfish and using a short pole with a line and a net do much the same however we are targeting the specific crawdad.

Now that you have the crayfish how do you keep them fresh? I do the same thing for crawdads I do for crabs and that is simply put them in a dry bucket, mesh bag, or basket in fact my bucket has holes to let any water drain so you could call it a modern basket  . I know it sounds counter intuitive but they can survive a long time out of water as long as their gills are wet. If you want to kill a bucket of crawdads or crabs add water and in short order they use up all the oxygen and die. Even if there was enough oxygen as soon as one dies it starts leeching toxins that can kill the rest of them this is not the case if they are dry or damp. If you are in a hot climate then you may want to put them in a cooler with ice but I recommend frozen bottles or ice with a damp burlap sack over it especially if you can make a shelf to keep the crawdads or crabs out of the water as the ice melts.

As far using them I take a large pot of water (I got one with a basket for crayfish, shrimp, crabs, etc) and get it to a rolling boil. Add in salt and Old Bay Seasoning then add the live crawdads. (Note on food safety only eat shellfish that were alive right before cooking or processing otherwise you run the risk of getting sick as they spoil rapidly and if you kill them to process keep them as cool as possible until cooking) In short order they will be cooked and then I dump them out on my picnic table and enjoy. I have also peeled the tails and sautéed them as well as make crayfish and grits for breakfast after a successful night. In fact I am certain any recipe for shrimp, lobster or crab you can substitute crayfish. Now crayfish are useful beyond the table because quite simply fish eat them.  You can use live crayfish for largemouth and smallmouth bass bait, smaller ones or peeled tails for bream bait, and I have been told trout eat them as well. I also have used peeled tails for catfish and smallmouth bass. Beyond fishing and the table crawdads (or just heads and hulls) can be fed to chickens and pigs. I do recommend grinding crushing, or pulverizing before feeding them to chickens as they have trouble with the shell as it is a bit tough. 
 
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