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Fishing with Crayfish

Crayfish are common in rivers,streams and lakes, and often conceal themselves under rocks, weedbeds or logs. Therefore it is important for fisherman to learn how to fish with crayfish and how crayfish activity can affect fishing success.

Studies show that adults (one year old) become most active at dusk and continue heavy feeding activity until daybreak. Young crayfish are more likely to be the ones out during bright sunny days, while the older crayfish are more active on cloudy days and during the night.

>From past experience when fishing natural lakes, crayfish seem to make up the bulk of the gamefish diet. Bass in particular seem to prefer them in the area lakes I fish even when other forage is available. The reason is they are easier to catch than other types of forage.

.There are many methods of fishing with crayfish the most common being hooking them through the tail with a larger hook and using them in conjunction with split shot. Another deadly option is to hook the crayfish gently through the ridge between its eyes, taking care not to hook it to deeply or this will kill it. Use split shot with this setup, only if water depth, current or wind demand it. The object is for the crayfish to appear natural. Other alternatives are just using the tail portion of the crayfish or clipping the claws of the crayfish . On a personal note, I have had more success using crayfish WITH claws than without.

As most crayfish are active at night, it makes more sense to fish with them during this time, but they work equally well and are easier to fish with during the day. As with any presentation, you want to present it in the most natural way possible. Crayfish aficionados sometimes use larger rubber bands dyed with magic markers to match the crayfishes colorings to attach the hooks to the crayfish and keep it alive much longer AND present a much more natural appearance. Experimentation and personal preferences will dictate how you should fish a crayfish

Using smaller crayfish, preferably within the 1-3" range opens up a door to more species options. Anything larger than that and you eliminate many freshwater species, yet still retain fishing viability to largemouth, smallmouth, catfish and freshwater drum.

As crayfish are a deadly bait on most species of fish, you should use heavier terminal tackle, with lines approaching the 14lb test range and a good stiff rod about 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet long unless you are fishing really clear waters. In situations like these, opt for lighter line from 6-8 lb test. Lob the crayfish out in to the water softly, let it sink and reel up all but a little slack, twitching it only occasionally to keep the crayfish moving

One last tip for fishing crayfish in small to medium size rivers is to attach them with a large hook beneath a slip bobber and drift them through runs so that they are just barely off the bottom, occasionally hitting it. This tactic works pretty good in twilight periods just as the crayfish begin to assume their natural nocturnal activities. Be ready to set the hook at all time, and keep a steady eye on the slip bobber. Any unnatural movements in the bobbers drift usually suggest a fish has latched on to it. Particularly if you have drifted the same area more than a few times and know how the run affects the bobber.

Daniel C. Nielsen


Copyright 2000 
Reprinted with permission

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