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TN Rick

Fishing Live Crawfish

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We are going to Rainy Lake the end of June and I am thinking of trapping and trying to use some live crawfish as bait. In the past we have had SM spit them up when we get them to the boat so I thought that crawfish might be a good bait to try.

I fish a lot of plastic baits and some hard body baits, but must admit that I have little experience fishing live bait and NO experience using crawfish. I have researched and can find little on the subject, which keads me to believe that it might not be a productive technique.

Any advice or experience that can be shared would be greatly appreciated.

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I would focus more on cayfish for you to eat, as they are the bomb!

As far as fish go.. I have heard many reasons why fish do not eat crayfish at certain times. I for one believe that they eat them when the shed, because they are the most soft at that time... and when they are small, because they can eat them easier. Crayfish must put up quite a fight when a bass tries to gulp them up, otherwise they wouldn't so thick on some lakes.

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I would stick with the plastic version. Trapping them can be helpful to get a good idea on what color they are in that lake at that specific time of the year, then you can match that with your bait. I'm a big fan of the YUM craw tube. They are softer than other brands I've tried and have smaller claws. I love this bait because unlike most plastics we use, this one looks lke the real thing, and you can flip, drag, or swim them. I keep blue, red and natural on hand ALWAYS.

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I use crawdads almost exclusively during the mid summer/post spawn pattern. Typically,it is a July bite for some reason on the water that I fish.

We seine them out of a small river and fish them with a lindy rig. 1/4 oz lindy sinker with a 30 inch single snell hook. I hook them thru the tail and pull them the way that they would be swimming if moving over the rocks. Dont hook them too deep in the tail, or you will kill them. Just inside the end of the flipper is adequate. You dont need to maintain bottom contact with the lindy sinker, other than to occasionallly touch down to make sure you are in the bottom zone.

You can almost always tell when a bite is going to occur, as the crawdad will be flipping his tail hard to try to avoid the strike.

A smallmouth absolutely cannot resist a crawdad swimming over his head, as it thinks that if it gets to the bottom again, it will get away in the rocks.

You will catch two or three fish when using crawdads. Smallmouths, Sheepshead, and an occasional northern.

The sheepsheads will be monsters when they hit a crawdad.

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When I was a kid, I would often use live craws for large and smallmouth bass. I rarely, if ever use bait anymore, but it was fun at the time, and I am 100% positive that a smallie will eat a live craw every single time it sees one.

Try to get medium size ones, about 3" long, I would hook them once through the tail with a good sized bait hook, maybe a 1/0.

I would use no weight and cast it on a medium spinning outfit in a suspected area. If there is a smallie there he WILL eat the craw. No sense in risking gut-hooking Mr. Smallmouth, so set the hook hard right away.

On a great smallmouth fishery like Rainy, you should be able to get plenty of fish on lures, but using some live craws you trapped yourself might make for an interesting afternoon session one day.

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This doesn't sound like an issue in this instance, but you can only fish with crayfish in the lake/system where you catch them. To catch them one place and transport them another is against the law.

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i'd say use artificials - you'll catch just as many fish.

that way you can eat the crayfish yourself! tasty

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This doesn't sound like an issue in this instance, but you can only fish with crayfish in the lake/system where you catch them. To catch them one place and transport them another is against the law.

Very good point... rusty crayfish are invasive species...

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Hiya -

I'd agree with what several others have said: It's probably more trouble than it's worth...and this is coming from someone with no philosophical objection to live bait whatsoever. If you need a live bait back-up for a tough bite, almost impossible to beat a jumbo leech, and they're a lot less hassle.

As several have also pointed out, it's way illegal to transport crayfish so if you do it, you have to catch them in the system you're fishing. The reason we have rustys on Lake of the Woods is because some twit of a bass fisherman apparently thought smuggling crayfish into Canada to use as bait was a clever thing to do... I'd love to find the guy who did it. I'd feed HIM to the crayfish he was kind enough to introduce...

Cheers,

Rob Kimm

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I want to thank everyone for the input.

There are 10 of us (in 5 boats) making the trip to Rainy and we run a little tournament each year based on the biggest fish by species and biggest total weight. I was just looking for an "edge" for Smallmouth and thought that live crawfish might work.

I have a Frabill crawfish trap that I am taking along and will trap whatever we use in the lake (no legal or ecological problems that way). Have used artificals in the past for SM, along with plastic worms and grubs as well as topwater baits.

I'll just have to expirement with the live crawfish (if I can catch any in the trap)and see how it works out

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when i looked in a magazine at the top 20 bass of all time i believe there where quite a few taken on live craws.

Note from admin, please read forum policy before posting again, thank you.

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step 1: toss out that trap with a can of punctured cat food.

step 2: go fish with some cranks, jigs/craw combos, and spinnerbaits

step 3: harvest crayfish and eat like a king

rinse hands and repeat

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smile My wife had a cousin that made a wicked crawfish boil and she is after me to try to do one. Maybe I'll give it a try . . . after I try to catch some big Smallies.

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