Helpful Hints on How to Catch Crayfish


Many people enjoy the taste of crayfish, and you too can bring in large numbers of these small shellfish for your table with these helpful hints on how to catch crayfish. Crayfish, also known as crawdads, are a small freshwater shellfish closely related to lobsters. There are about 330 species of crayfish living in the US, and more crayfish are caught in the US than any other kind of shellfish. While they are small, they are also quite delicious and be prepared in a variety of appetizing manners. Because they are found in such large numbers all across the US, (they can be a hazard to game fish species) they are relatively easy to catch. To begin your crayfish catching endeavor, you will need several things, a trap, some good bait and a quality place to catch them.


Crayfish have voracious appetites and can be found in almost every lake, pond, river, stream or creek in the US. They can be captured in small numbers with just some string, some bait and a net. Simply tie some bait to the end of a string, lower it into the water until a crayfish begins to eat it, then slowly put it towards the surface and scoop the crayfish into a net. If you are looking for enough crayfish to make a meal, you will need a trap. Traps come in a variety of sizes and shapes, and are easy to use and transport. Most designs incorporate a round or cylinder shape to allow them to sit nicely on the water’s bottom, and have funnel shaped openings on either side to allow crayfish to enter. Once inside, crayfish often cannot find their way out. Some cleverly designed traps even have crayfish escape stoppers.

Keeping your trap full of bait and checking them often will help you prevent escaping crayfish if you do not have these escape stoppers. Traps are available from some fishing stores or can be found easily on the internet. Feel free to discuss how to catch crayfish with the trap’s manufacturer. They can give you tips on the best way to utilize their traps for a better catch.


Once you have a trap, or even better many traps, you will need bait. Crayfish have enormous appetites and eat a variety of foods. Fish makes the best crayfish bait. Some people have been known to use chicken or cat food baits with success, but most people agree that fish works best. Believe it or not, crayfish are very picky eaters and will not go for spoiled or rotten bait. So make sure your bait is fresh. Salmon heads, herring, shad, menhaden all work well, and using the heads with the guts still attached really works. Fish for bait can be purchased at a bait shop or cheaply at the grocery store. Oily fish works best. Keep your bait frozen until use for freshness. If you do not want to buy bait, you can catch it the old fashioned way from the water you will be hunting crayfish in. Almost any fish will work, except bullheads and catfish.

Commercially manufactured baits can also be purchased. Bait boxes are composed of wide wire mesh and serve to let the crayfish to eat the bait and to allow the bait’s smell to permeate the water surrounding the trap. Avoid simply placing bait on the bottom of the trap, as crayfish will often eat at it from the outside and not get caught in the trap.

Now that you have a freshly baited trap, deciding where to place it can mean the difference between a few catches and a real feast. Crayfish live in areas where they have access to food and protection from predators. Look to these spots to have the best results. Areas with lots of rocks, roots and vegetation will produce a larger number of crayfish. Algae are staple of a crayfish’s diet, so areas of algae growth often have a lot of crayfish.  The best time of day to catch crayfish is at night.


Catching crayfish can be a rewarding and delicious experience. Learning how to catch crayfish and the best places to catch them will greatly improve your chances of really bringing home a feast.