How to Catch Crayfish

Cooked-Crayfish

Freshly caught and cooked!  Crayfish are a tasty treat

Who would guess that crayfish would be not only fun to catch, but also make a tasty protein-rich meal!  This summer, we’ve definitely come to appreciate crayfish as a much neglected delicacy, and we’ll tell you exactly how we did it!

Truth be told, we didn’t even think about catching them until we browsed the Minnesota fishing regulations pamphlet.  As it turns out, with a fishing license, you can catch and keep up to 25 lbs of crayfish per person. (Picture 5 x 5lb bags of sugar.  That’s the weight of the max catch you’re allowed.  That’s a lot of crayfish!)  What’s more, the water quality in the lakes here on the boundary waters is some of the cleanest that you’ll find anywhere.  So it only made sense to try our hand at catching crayfish.

Here in the land of 10,000 lakes, we’re always around water, but you never really see crayfish, as they’re primarily nocturnal.  So, we weren’t sure how easy it would be to find them up here.  But, after listening to some swimmers concerned about something nipping at their toes in the water, we decided that our resort was as good a place as any to try.  And what do you know!  This area is loaded with crayfish!

 

Hunting? Trapping?  Fishing?  Whatever you want to call it, catching wild crayfish couldn’t be easier. We tried first with an old minnow trap that was here at the resort (see picture below).

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A basic minnow trap works ok.

I’m sure you’ve seen the type.  Basically two long tubes of wire netting, held together by a hinge and a clip.  At each end is a small hole that allows the crayfish (minnows) to enter.  We did harvest a good catch after just one night, but we weren’t impressed with the trap.  It seemed too easy for the little critters to get out.

 

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If you don’t want to get pinched – pick up the crayfish by the mid section (from behind)!

 

So, after some investigation, we settled on this trap (see below).  We ordered it on Amazon and had it in no-time.   We followed the same routine – same bait, same placement of the trap, same length of time the trap was out.  We’re pleased to see that this one yielded a better catch (and was easier to use).

crayfish-trap

South Bend Wire Crawfish Trap

How to Catch Crayfish:

  1. Select a slow moving (and reasonably clean) body of water that you can easily access.  You want the crayfish trap to be able to rest on the bottom.
  2. Add the bait your trap. We used fresh fish carcasses (after we’d filleted them for the meat).  I’ve read that you can also use other things (like the trimmings from raw chicken) to catch crayfish, but haven’t tried them.
  3. Close and fasten the trap shut.
  4. Make sure you have a rope or line securely attached to your trap, and that the line is long enough so that the crayfish trap can rest on the bottom of the stream, lake, etc.
  5. Holding on to the loose end of the rope, toss the trap into the water.  Make sure the trap is resting on the bottom.  (We learned this the hard way:  if your trap is resting on a rock instead of on the bottom, the crayfish won’t find it.)
  6. Tie the loose end of the rope to a something sturdy that’ll mark the place and keep the trap in place (or you can fasten it to a buoy that’ll float and mark the place of your trap).
  7. Let the trap sit overnight.
    Bucket-of-crayfish
  8. Check it first thing the next morning by pulling the trap in.  Be sure to have a cooler or large bucket with a cover handy to put the crayfish in.  (You’ll also want a couple of frozen “icees” in the container, to slow the metabolism of the crayfish and keep them fresh until you cook them later in the day.)

Note:  It’s important to check the trap the next day, for a couple of reasons.  1) you want to harvest the crayfish before the bait runs out and they start looking for a way out of the trap. 2) unattended traps can sometimes “walk off.”  3) leaving a trap unattended is a bit thoughtless, as it can lead to injuring other animals.

Stay tuned for another post soon on how to cook and eat crayfish!

Living Self-Sufficiently: Giving Myself a Haircut

gave-myself-a-haircut“Hubby” here.  Just recently, I was confronted once again with a familiar problem: I needed a haircut but was many miles away from a barber or hair stylist.

After giving this frustrating problem some thought, I also remembered frustrations from many of my recent past haircut experiences:

  1. Haircuts cost me money!  In our new lifestyle, we now focus more on keeping money than on earning it. So paying for the same service ten times a year (forever) doesn’t make much sense.  And, like everything else these days, haircuts are only getting more expensive.
  2. I rarely receive a haircut that I like.  This is partly because as I age, there’s less and less that can be done well with my hair.  But also, I’ve discovered that many barbers give everyone essentially the same haircut.  On several occasions, I’ve found myself walking out of the barbershop looking a lot like the guy that left the barber chair just before me.  You know that you can expect this outcome when the barber begins the conversation with words that sound like “do you want a ‘regular’ haircut?”
  3. We move around so much that even when I find someone that cuts my hair the way I like it, we move again and I’m once again shopping for another barber or stylist.
  4. With our new independent lifestyle, I like the idea of depending on others as little as possible.  Cutting my own hair seemed to fit right into our goal of living self-sufficiently.

After thinking for a while about it, I decided to try giving myself a haircut.  My online research results were poor since the videos I found were for men’s haircut styles that are nothing like mine. (I have no interest in shaving my head or giving myself a “mohawk.”)

So, I searched for a hard-copy book instead.  I decided on “Scissors and Comb Haircutting, A Cut by Cut Guide” (Bob Ohnstad) which gave me the basics of hair cutting.  The only tools I needed were a comb and good pair of scissors. (I used household scissors but a pair of barber’s scissors might make it easier if you want to spend a few extra bucks.)  This book was written in the 80’s and has example photos that reflect that era, but my own hair style hasn’t changed much since then anyway.

Scissors and Comb Haircutting: A Cut-by-Cut Guide

I was able to “measure” my hair length in the back of my head by using my fingers and was able to keep the length even this way.  Didn’t need a mirror for this either.  Most of my hair is now about three finger widths long, but you could use one, two , three, or four fingers based on your style preference.  Trimming around the ears and making a straight line in back was surprisingly easy.  Because I normally don’t keep my hair that short I didn’t use electric clippers.  However, the book made them look pretty easy to use and they are fairly inexpensive to purchase online.

If you think you may want to start cutting your own hair, but are nervous about it, try paying a barber one more time and closely  watching what they do (although, you have probably seen it a hundred times before already).  You’ll see that they don’t do anything magical.

I recommend that you reset your expectations slightly and just enjoy the experience.  Get used to cutting your own hair and save yourself some money, time, and frustration.  Also, if you try it once and aren’t pleased with the results remember the stuff does grow back!