There are two types of crawfishing, deep water and shallow water. Deep water crawfishing takes place in rivers, while shallow water crawfishing typically takes place in specially dug ponds. My uncle uses a specially fitted aluminum boat to catch crawfish. The wheel is run by hydraulics and pulls the boat forward.
Crawfish nets are usually out of rubber coated chicken wire. The net has a plastic top with a small lip that allows the fisherman to pull the net out of the water. Connected to the top is a wire cylnder that lead to the larger base of the net. The bottom of the net is made with three flues that allow the crawfish to go into, but not out of, the net. A metal rod runs from the plastic top to about six inches past the bottom of the net. The rod is there so the the net can be stuck into the ground and not fall over.
The nets are baited with a piece of fish, crawfish bait (large pellets that look like rabbit or chicken feed), and hard corn. The fish and bait attract the crawfish into the net, and the hard corn helps ensure that the crawfish will stay and eat for awhile. The nets are arranged in rows in the pond. To pull the nets, the crawfisheman will start with a net that is already baited and drive the boat over to the first net. He’ll then pull the first ne out of the water, stick the new net in it place, and dump the crawfish into a five gallon bucket. As he’s moving to the next net, he’ll re-bait the first net and just repeat the process as he goes along.
Once he’s filled up a few buckets, he’ll pause to dump the crawfish into the boat’s sorting tray to pull out the old bait and fishbones, and to stuff the crawfish in to sacks. He will, of course, be thick rubber gloves to protect himself from the crawfish pinchers. A full crawfish sack can weigh up to 40 pounds and can cost $50, depending on the price per pound. The catch of the day can be sold to restaurants, processing plants, and to families wanting to have a crawfish boil. I’ll talk later about the crawfish boil and other ways that crawfish can be eaten in a later post!