GOOD BAIT FOR A GOOD CRAYFISH CATCH
To catch lots of crayfish, you need a good, productive, crayfish trap. But without bait, even the best trap isnít much good. To catch crayfish, you need bait. Thatís a simple and accurate statement.
WHAT IS THE BEST BAIT?
Ask several persons this question, and youíll get several answers. Here is my simple answer to this question:
FISH MAKES THE BEST CRAYFISH BAIT
Traditionally crayfish traps in most countries are baited with fish. Swedes use sunfish, shiners and herring while Louisiana Cajuns often entice the crawfish with gizzard shad and pogies (menhaden). A commercial crayfisherman on the West Coast catches his crayfish with salmon heads and other oily fish. Lately, I had good luck using salmon trimmings from the local grocery store. For free!
Yes, fish makes an enticing bait that usually surpasses all other baits. But that doesnít mean other sources of bait wonít work. For years I bought cheap chicken necks and wings and had very good success with them. One store trimmed their chickens leaving the backs of the birds at a reasonable price. I brought home thousands of crayfish with chicken backs.
But, as I said, each person has his own opinion about bait. A description about crayfish catching from Finland, a country that knows plenty about catching crayfish, included as good bait "a stealthily shot neighbor's cat". But it also mentions squirrels, chickens and other assorted animals as well as fish from the lake where the fishing takes place.
But here is a warning. Crayfish bait must be fresh! Contrary to some peopleís opinions, crayfish donít like spoiled, smelly or sour bait, be it fish or meat. I found that out the hard way recently. I had several pieces of turkey necks left over from a successful 1400 catch in the mountains. After four days of keeping the bait unrefrigerated, I froze it after arriving home. Then, some weeks later, I defrosted the old bait and used it in a lake known for its large amount of crayfish. To my great surprise and disappointment, I caught very few crayfish under conditions that usually had been very productive.
Analyzing the conditions that led to the dismal catch, I came to the conclusion that it was the spoiled bait. I recalled that, as I was baiting the traps, the bait felt slimey and obviously was too far gone to be considered fresh. It was just plain foul fowl!
A few weeks later I returned to the same lake. This time I brought fresh bait in the form of fresh salmon trimmings from the local food store. With traps located in the same general area, I now had a good catch. I finally believed my friend and crayfish expert who had told me that crayfish demand fresh bait. It's simply a myth that they eat rotten food.
Another rule about bait is this:
THE MORE BAIT, THE MORE CRAYFISH!
Again and again I find that the more bait I put in a trap, the more crayfish I catch. What probably happens is that as soon as the crayfish have eaten all the bait, they simply start looking for a way out of the trap. That explains why a Finnish article about crayfish catching stated that up to 75% of the crayfish in an overnight trap eventually escape. Well, wouldn't YOU start looking for the exit if you either had had your fill or if you found that all the food was gone?
Many crayfish traps have some kind of an escape stopper, some quite efficient, some not. But here is the solution to crayfish escaping a trap. It has been well documented that as long as a trap has good bait in it, crayfish who have already entered the trap, will stay there while new crayfish still will be entering the trap. Once I discovered this secret, I found that my traps were much more likely to be full of crays, whether the trap had an escape stopper or not. So, keep your traps filled with good bait, and you will catch more crayfish.
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