How To Catch Crawfish? A Guide For Beginners

How To Catch Crawfish? A Guide For Beginners

Small, 10-legged crustaceans known as crawfish or crawdads are found in bodies of water all over the United States. and other countries. You can catch them with fishing poles, special traps, or even just your bare hands as a fun family activity! After you’re finished, you can either cook up a tasty meal or take one home as a curious pinchy pet. Just make sure you only catch crawfish in areas where doing so is permitted.

Fun And Interesting Facts About Crawdads

  • The creatures swim backward much faster to avoid danger even though they can move forward with their legs.
  • To combat a parasitic disease, crawdads are used in Kenya to control snail populations.
  • Some varieties of crawdads can survive for a while outside of water before needing to be put back into the water because they have gills on the inside of their bodies for breathing.
  • A different species of crawdad will drown if kept submerged at all times.
  • Crawdads come in a variety of colors, including blue, red, and white; red is by far the most prevalent, while white is the least.

Catch Crawfish: Rules And Regulations

Before going on a hunting, fishing, trapping, etc., you should always familiarize yourself with all the relevant rules and regulations. There weren’t many rules for us. We had to have a fishing license and could only set traps no bigger than 2 feet by 1 foot by 1 foot. We had to put a tag with our name and phone number on each trap because they were going to soak unattended. These are the rules that apply to crawfish trapping in Montana, with the exception of a few restricted areas. Many other states have similar laws.

Best Baits For Crawfish

We have found that fish with a lot of oil makes for the best bait. The carcass of last week’s catch can be used as bait for your traps if your state permits it. It doesn’t matter what fish you have lying around—trout, salmon, walleye, pike, sunfish, bass, catfish—almost anything will do. Tilapia is another excellent bait, and for convenience, you can purchase it frozen in a bag of individual filets.

Crawdads are generalist scavengers and are not picky, even though fish may be the ideal food. A common attractant is canned cat food with holes punched in the lid, along with turkey or chicken legs. Actually, any leftover or freezer-burned meat qualifies.

There is no need to add bait to the trap. You only need a piece the size of your hand, such as a whole sunny or a tilapia fillet. The most crucial factor is that the crawfish must enter the trap in order to access the bait. You’ll never get the biggest catch if they can pick at it from outside the trap rather than going inside to get at it. Sporting goods retailers sell wire mesh cages that you suspend in the middle of your trap with wire for this use. You just need to place the bait inside the cage, suspend it inside the trap using the wires, and you’re good to go.

In a pinch, you could affix the bait to the bottom of the trap with cable or zip ties. If the trap is left in place, the crawfish will be unable to reach the bait because of the lake bed or creek bottom, so they will have to crawl inside the trap to get to it.

How Do I Choose A Crawfish Trap?

Crawfish traps are simple to use; they are essentially minnowed traps with a slightly larger opening. In fact, we purchased six traditional funnel-style minnow traps and simply enlarged the openings to allow crawfish to enter them because the sport shop was out of crawfish-specific traps.

This kind of trap also has additional benefits. The fact that they have two entrances makes it simpler for the crawfish to find their way inside, which I like. When the traps were disassembled and nestled together, we could easily fit six of them in a five-gallon bucket. They are also simple to transport and store. Additionally, they are reasonably priced, costing about $15 per item.

Of course, there are other types of traps, such as box traps, umbrella nets, and collapsible mesh basket traps; however, in my opinion, this type is the most easily accessible, reasonably priced, and efficient. While we altered a minnow trap, creating your own crawfish traps will go a step further and save you money.

Crawfish: Where Can I Find It?

Both as food and as friends, crawfish are fantastic. These crawfish can be found to add to a delicious meal or be kept as pets, unlike the catchphrase made famous by Bruce the shark in the Finding Nemo movie. But in this instance, we’ll just focus on where to find them and how to catch them for food.

Anywhere there is shallow, slowly moving freshwater, such as lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams, crawfish can be found. They enjoy hanging out at the bottom, hidden by rocks and vegetation, and feeding on whatever comes their way, including small fish or the local flora.

You may automatically associate it with the south, particularly Louisiana because they also thrive in an environment with lots of rain and warm temperatures. Particularly in the spring, Louisiana’s climate is ideal for the growth of crawfish. These shellfish are not only found in the south, though. The “signal crawfish” is a local crawfish found only in Washington.


How Can I Fish For Crawfish?

Here are some tips on HOW to catch these little guys for yourself now that you know WHERE to look for them. *BUT be sure to check ahead of time to see if the fishing spot you choose requires a license or not! Now for the enjoyable part—catching crawfish.

There are 3 primary approaches: by hand, by trap, or by bait and string. Bait is not necessary for the first method, but it is for the other two. The most enjoyable task, in my opinion, is this. You can catch crawfish from behind because they swim backwards.

All you have to do is lift up rocks and either scoop them up or grab them with your fingers from behind their head while standing downstream from a current (i.e., the water is flowing towards you). Dip nets and protective gloves are other options.

*The best bait for these next two techniques is fresh, so use salmon, trout, carp, herring, or even raw chicken and pork as your bait. You can also use cat or dog food that contains fish. Always bait traps before putting them in the water.

TRAP (with bait): A collapsible net or a three-foot-tall cone-shaped funnel can be used as traps that can be left open for a few hours or closed overnight. The trap should gradually funnel the crawfish into a small opening, making it difficult for them to escape, and the bait should be kept in a nylon stocking to prevent quick-eating.

STRING (with bait): ideally with a raw chicken leg. Tie the bait to nylon string, then dip it and let it sit in the stream for a while. If the bait is slowly lifted and then scooped into a dip net, the crawfish will attach itself to it due to the chicken’s tough skin. When crawfish break the water’s surface, they will release their grip, so you must act quickly.

How To Maintain Crawfish Life For Weeks?

In the late spring and summer, crawfish are one of my go-to live baits for smallmouth bass. I like to keep a few dozen on hand rather than catch them as needed for last-minute river floats or quick trips to a nearby stream. A large fish tank with a filtration system is not necessary to keep crawfish, unlike some other live baits. Crawfish can be stored in the garage or basement for several weeks if you have a drill and a large, rectangular plastic storage container with a lid (the kind you might use to store sweaters). What you must do is as follows:

Just Add Water

Just enough water should be added to the container to cover the crawfish 3/4 of the way. They don’t have to be completely submerged. Drill rows of holes in the container lid using a 1 1/4″ bit.

Feed Crawfish A Vegan Diet

Although lettuce is a good option because it’s cheap and doesn’t pollute the water as quickly as foods like hot dogs or raw meat trimmings, crawfish will eat just about anything. Change the water the day after feeding the crawfish once a week, adding just a few large leaves. I’ll slowly turn the container over and allow the old water to drain out of the lid’s holes.

Do A Body Search

If any crawfish molt inside the container, take immediate possession of the broken shells. As soon as possible, remove any dead crawfish as well. You might lose even more of your baits as a result of the water becoming rapidly contaminated by shells and dead crawfish.

How Are Crawfish Cleaned And Prepared?

The most crucial factor is to prevent them from dying when bringing your crawfish home from the lake to the table. The crawfish can be quickly placed on ice, which is an easy option. In the time between being captured and being boiled, this will keep them alive.

You might also think about dropping a live bait aerator into a cooler with water in it. Your crawfish should live for a very long time if you occasionally replace the water. Crawfish can be “purge-ed” for up to 24 hours in clean water, allowing any contaminants or off flavors to be removed. This method does enhance flavor. This is made easier by routine water changes.

Relating to laws, it’s important to be aware that some states consider some crawfish species to be invasive. You should check your local laws to make sure you are not unintentionally violating any by using either of these methods to transport them from the lake to your kitchen. What matters most is that you have a plan, no matter what you decide to do.

Crawfish can be prepared in the same manner as other crustaceans and shellfish. For the majority of us, that entails a traditional boil of corn, potatoes, and sausages in salted water. Here are 40 authentic bayou recipes to get you started if you’re looking for something different from the usual boil (although I still prefer to eat crawdads that way).

The cooked crawdad’s head and tail should be separated before eating. If you’re a true outdoor enthusiast, slurp the skull’s juices before removing the tail’s exoskeleton to devour its succulent meat.


A traditional crawfish boil is a fantastic way to end the day after a successful day of crawfishing. Drop a pot and start fishing if you’ve been craving seafood in your landlocked state. Fresh shellfish is probably much closer than you think.