Friday, July 9, 2010

Crawfish Trapping Log: July 4th, 2010.

When most folks think of Arizona they think dusty, dry, rattlesnakes and cactus from Tombstone to the Grand Canyon. These are the common keywords and very rightfully so, but Arizona has much more to offer. In fact, if you've never been to Goldwater Lake you probably wouldn't associate pine trees, mountain lake, family picnic destination, trout fishing or even Blue Heron to the name. But not only can all this be found and enjoyed along the shore line of this quaint 15 acre lake, it's also the habitat for thousands of crawfish!

Located a few miles south of Prescott on old Senator Highway, Goldwater Lake was originally built in the 1920's as a water source for the anticipated growth Yavapai County and opened to public use by Prescott's Park Service in the 1970's. No one really knows when Crawfish were introduced to Goldwater Lake or exactly how many crawfish lurk below the surface...but we can tell you it's close to the number of Nutria nesting in the the cypress knees along the banks of the Lacassine Bayou. In other words, A LOT!

Trapping large volumes of crawfish requires a lot of mobility around and on the water. Since the banks of the Goldwater Lake are reserved for pedestrian traffic only, please welcome the newest member of Arizona Crawfish Company known as the Desert Green Gator.

This little 14 foot boat really earned it's keep! It enabled us to set "trout line" type assemblies for the traps all over the lake and made transporting our catch back to the lakeside picnic area a much simpler task than carrying them by hand as we have done in the past. Honestly, we probably would have caught just as many crawfish without the boat and crawfish trap lines assemblies, but we would have missed out on other important outdoor activities such as wetting a fishing line, napping under the shade of pine trees or boiling twenty ponds of trapped crawfish to share with all the people present at the lake that day filled with curiosity at the concept of actually eating 'those nasty mudbugs.'

It's always a highlight watching and listening to people's reaction when trying boiled crawfish their first time. One of these day's we may write a book with all the one-linners we've heard over the years like "what is that black line?" or "Is it healthy to suck out their brains?" and a personal favorite "I can afford not to eat these!" One of the most common questions we are repeatedly asked is "what do you use to bait crawfish traps?" The answer is simple: if there are crawfish in the water, it doesn't really matter. Canned cat food, fish bones, bacon, catfish blood bait, raw chicken, hot dogs or even processed crawfish bait, you name it! As long as it creates a smell, it will attract crawfish! What's more important about bait is quantity, not necessarily quality. If you're using Open Two Ring Crawfish Traps in shallow water that need to be checked often, then a slice of bacon tied in the middle will suffice. If you're using a vinyl coated pillow trap several feet deep off a rock ledge and you may not be checking but every 12 or more hours, then up to 1/2 chicken might be required. In other words, the longer you're gone from your trap, the more bait you want to load it with as you want your bait to produce scent that will attract crawfish the entire time you are away from your traps.

This weekend we used primarily chicken since there was a sale at the grocery story of whole chickens for $3; so for less than $30 we were able to keep seventeen crawfish traps full of bait for two full days.

All said and done at the end of our 48 hour trapping expedition, we weighed out a grand total of 150 pounds of live crawfish. Averaged out we were catch 2.2 pounds per trap per 12 hours with very little relocation of traps. You would think numbers like that would make a dent in an Arizona lake but we saw no indication we made the slightest dent in crawfish population. In fact the traps were just as full the last time we checked them as they were the first time.

We've yet to decide which water source we'll be trapping at next, but we'll keep y'all posted and send trapping updates as well! No matter what body of water y'all hit next, please remember to be respectful of our environment, courtesy to other outdoors men, patience with young ones who could be experiencing nature for their first time and messing with another man's crawfish trap could consequently lead to you being the crawfish bait...

Y'all come back now ya' hear!?

The Arizona Crawfish Company Family

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