From Lake Michigan salmon to the popular catfish, the aquatic version of sirloin steak is the crayfish. Virtually all fish species like to eat them but bass and perch are particularly fond of this crustacean.

Crayfish, crawdad, or crab – they are all the same here in the Midwest. Virtually every freshwater body of water contains them and the fish found there eat them with delight.

Homeowners in many parts of their range find crayfish in small mounds of mud the shape of volcanos in their well-groomed lawns.

Most species of crayfish are omnivorous. They will eat virtually everything.   Some will eat only vegetation. But most eat insects, grass, vegetation, earthworms and anything else they come across.

One way of securing the crustacean consists of lowering a piece of meat into their hole on a piece of string. The crayfish grasps the meat and is reluctant to give it up. You raise the bait slowly and the crayfish removed as it reaches the surface.

Another sure-fire way to catch crawdads is with a minnow trap. It is easiest to use. The trap is a wire mesh cylinder with an inverted cone at each end. Bait ids placed inside. The crawfish crawls into the open end of the cone and cannot figure how to get back out. The bait is usually any type of cut-up fish or cat food.

For those wanting to fish for crayfish try placing a piece of fish or worm on the end of fishing line and lower into the rocky areas of a stream. Dangle it between rocks and in crevices. The crayfish takes hold and can be gently reeled to the surface.

You can keep crayfish alive for long periods of time by storing them in a cooler between layers of wet newspaper. Just alternate layers of crayfish and layers of newspaper to keep them wet. Store them in a refrigerator and use as soon as possible.

For those needing prolonged storage you can freeze them. By freezing only the tails, they take up limited space. Freeze them quickly while they are still fresh. When thawed the meat will still be firm and stay on the hook.

Some anglers use small crayfish whole. Hook them through the last section of the body, just in front of the tail. Some people remove the claws and hook the crayfish through the ridge just behind the head. Either method seems productive.

Others like to use only the tails. They pinch off the tail at the first segment and then peel the shell. Then impale meat on a small hook. If it looks too soft to stay on the hook, try boiling the tails first. The boiling tends to firm up the meat.

Rigs for fishing with crayfish tend to vary according to species sought and water conditions. Split-shot and bottom-walking rigs are popular in water with a hard bottom. With a soft bottom, anglers tend to use jigs. Both methods require moving the bait slowly.

For the most part, the weight of a crayfish is enough to get it down to the desired depth if using a light line. You may need to use some weight when using a heavier line.

Perch and some other panfish anglers tend to use a slip bobber and suspend the crayfish over rocky bottoms or other submerged structure.   They often like “peelers.” Peelers are crayfish that have shed their outside shell. As crayfish shed their shells in order to grow they are without their shell for a day or two. Refrigerated at about 40-degrees, the process can delay the hardening process for 10 to 12-days.

Fishing with crayfish tends to increase angler success. It is not as challenging as artificial lures. But if one is willing to put forth the effort and stands the smell on your hands it is the way to go.



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