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).
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.
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).
How to Catch Crayfish:
- 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.
- 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.
- Close and fasten the trap shut.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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).
- Let the trap sit overnight.
- 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!