Crayfish Boil Part II

9 07 2012

About a year ago I was poking around on the website and I came across a thread about trapping crayfish. One of the contributors stated that she wanted to have a crayfish boil get together. I attended that first one and Lisa decided to make this an annual event. So here I was once again headed to the Reedsburg Dam State Forest Campground for the MS Crayfish Boil Part II. When I arrived at the river last year I found Lisa (the host) knee deep in the river catching crayfish. This year was no different. There she was once again knee deep in the river doing what she loves so much, fishing. A new participant, Hoss, was also out in the river catching them as well. After a quick hello and some small talk I was on my way back to the Jeep to get my stuff. I grabbed my traps, line, bait, net and wading shoes and soon I was in the river as well. The warm weather and lack of rain had lowered the water level on the river but it didn’t affect the crayfish population, they were still present in the thousands. I baited 2 traps with walleye scraps and placed them in what I thought was a mud buggy type area. I then tied a piece of scrap walleye to a hook and line and went fishing.
Catching crayfish is extremely easy. They can be caught by setting a trap which is nothing more than a wire minnow trap with the entrance holes enlarged a bit. Hang a piece of fish, I use walleye scraps, and set it in the water. All that is left to do is to wait for the crayfish to crawl in. This method works better at night when they are more active but in this area they are so plentiful they are active during the day as well. The other method is with a hook, line, bait and a net. The Rusty Crayfish is very aggressive and this trait makes them very easy to catch. All a person has to do is wade around and look for a crayfish crawling around. Drop the bait down to the crayfish and wait until he grabs hold. Slowly lift him up and then scoop him up with a net. Really it is just that easy. Even if he lets ago he will grab the bait again if he gets the chance. Some actually refuse to let go of the bait even when they are in the net. In just over 2 hours I had over 100 crayfish and once they were added to Lisa and Hoss’s numbers we were up to around 50 pounds of crayfish. Time to start cooking.
Hoss does a crayfish boil every year for some friends so he volunteered to do the cooking for this one. He has an industrial size cooker that can handle up to 100 pounds at a time. Before we could start though we had to sort through our catch and remove any dead ones. After that it was time to purge them. Washing the crayfish in a salt water solution helps to clear out the mud vein, similar to what someone would find in shrimp. Once that was done everything was handed off to Hoss so he could work his magic. Our catch was then dumped into a pot of boiling water that had some Cajun seasoning added to it. A few minutes later and they were removed from the pot. Once they were all scooped out in went the potatoes, corn, onions and sausage. A little while later the veggies and sausage were removed and everyone dug in. Eating these things is messy but that is half the fun and they are extremely good. I had 3 or 4 helpings myself. I never seem to have the time to do this at home so I take advantage a meal like this when I can.
If you should decide you want to try this yourself please check your local fishing rules. In Michigan the Rusty Crayfish is considered and invasive species (from Ohio no less) and it is illegal to transport them to another waterway. Also, a fisherman needs an all species license to trap them. Once you have that all that is needed is some basic fishing equipment and bait (Lisa likes to use hot dogs). Find an area with a lot of rocks and some clear water and go get them. Not only will you be catching a very tasty meal but you are helping to reduce the number of an invasive species that is playing havoc with the local eco-systems.

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