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#371162 - 04/04/14 02:24 AM Types of crayfish
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Reading this thread SMB/YP/RES in one acre dug pond brought up questions about stocking crayfish in a pond.

I have thought about it before and actually did put a half dozen small ones in our new pond out of our road ditch Have no idea if they made it or not (before I discovered PBF and knew to ask lots of questions before doing such things).

The previous thread as well as a comment from Bill Cody got me to thinking about it again, since I have a brand new forage pond that has not filled yet.

It is said not to use burrowing type but instead use a non burrowing type. Seems they all burrow to some degree under certain conditions, but some live in burrows all the time. At least that is what it seems like my research to date suggests.

For example the Calico crayfish is one recommended for ponds and is sold as such. I found out it is native to northern Kansas but not to my SE Ks area. Calico or paper shell crayfish - Orconectes immunis "Females will retreat to burrows or secluded areas to lay eggs." - so much for not burrowing.



So I thought to myself, "self, I wonder if there is a non-burrowing type that is native to my area that I could collect locally and introduce into my forage pond".

Here is what I have found to date:

This article is very instructive of the river/stream varieties that are common to my area. Crayfish from creeks and rivers of Cherokee county Kansas That should be right on the money.

Common types are Orconectes virilis (Northern Crayfish )and Orconectes Neglectus (Ringed Crayfish). Note these are the ones found in area streams. I'm going to assume these are the non-burrowing type. Someone set me straight if that is wrong. The other type common is a burrowing type Cambarus diogenes (Devil Crayfish).

What I "think" is the case is the Northern is what I find in the creek and small streams here on the farm. The Devil is what I find out in creek bottom fields that build the big mounds over their holes when the weather get dry. This is the article that leads me to believe this. Crayfish in Kansas

Excerpts:

The devil crayfish lives in burrows in timbered or formerly
timbered areas along the floodplains of streams. Its presence is often revealed by conspicuous mud chimneys. In early spring, young and some adults occur in roadside pools and other temporary waters.

Northern Crayfish - This crayfish may be very abundant in the pools of rocky streams.

So, would it be safe to say I should avoid the Devil and source some Northern Crayfish to put in my forage pond? Or will these "stream" crayfish not survive or thrive in a pond environment?

The other species (Ringed) I don't recall seeing (can't recall ever seeing a crawdad with the distinctivbe black bands on the pincers) and I think are more in the Spring river tributaries where there is clear water and flowing streams. So I don't think they are an option.

Any opinions? I have read some warnings to not introduce invasive species, so importing the Calico might not be a good idea.

Edit: PDF download Crayfish in Kansas



Edited by snrub (10/20/18 02:10 PM)
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#371163 - 04/04/14 02:46 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Northern Crayfish

Northern Wiki

Devil Crayfish

More on the Northern, which is the one I think I want to collect and stock. "Most often confused with the spothanded crayfish (Orconectes punctimanus) and the papershell crayfish (Orconectes immunis)". So maybe similar to papershell??? Or just looks like it. wink
Northern crayfish info


Edited by snrub (04/04/14 03:11 AM)
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#371189 - 04/04/14 09:55 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
esshup Offline
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In the ponds where I've stocked Papershells, I've never seen any burrows. But, there is also rip-rap or broken pieces of concrete that has cavities between the rocks to form natural burrows for them to hide in. Since crayfish can and will crawl over land to reach new bodies of water, the ones that are only found in streams and creeks might not stay in your pond, they prefer flowing water.
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#371192 - 04/04/14 10:05 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
Bill Cody Offline
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If you are seeing burrows or chimneys outside the pond and the pond still has water, then those are not made by papershell crayfish.


Edited by Bill Cody (04/04/14 10:05 AM)
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#371211 - 04/04/14 11:48 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: Bill Cody]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
laugh Right.

That is kind of what I was trying to avoid seeing by stocking a proper crayfish. laugh

If I see the mounds of dirt over the holes around the pond dam, it will be evidence of having chose poorly. cry
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#371216 - 04/04/14 12:24 PM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: esshup]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Originally Posted By: esshup
In the ponds where I've stocked Papershells, I've never seen any burrows. But, there is also rip-rap or broken pieces of concrete that has cavities between the rocks to form natural burrows for them to hide in. Since crayfish can and will crawl over land to reach new bodies of water, the ones that are only found in streams and creeks might not stay in your pond, they prefer flowing water.


Ok, thanks. The ones I am thinking of (which I believe to be Northern till I get a chance to catch some and actually look at them again closely) actually are in a small seasonal stream that runs by the backside of the dams on both of my ponds. When I caught them as a kid and later caught them for my kids when they were little we always caught them in the rock crossings that my dad had made out of sandstone rocks he picked up out of the farm fields. A low water crossing of a small creek. We have two of them about an eight of a mile apart. The streams do not run in the dry part of the summer but have pools that keep water in them in all but the very most severe drought. We could always find small crawdads by turning over the rocks and catching them by hand or a small dip net. So this particular variety would be used to at least part of the year having no running water. But they might want the running water (nearly always in spring here) to reproduce so I can see your point of them migrating for "greener pastures".

On another note, the borrowing type (which I believe to be the Devil crayfish till I get a chance for identification later) are often found at the water entrance of about any old pond in this area that has a shallow area that floods then goes dry. Or in about any of the flood plain along creeks with the proper conditions. Pictures below of old crawdad burrow holes that have filled back up. This were found during excavation of the pond where the holes existed, then filled up with muck during a later period after the hole was abandoned. Thus the change in color of the soil. Found these at my old pond in a shallow area during refurbishing. Found these in sons pond in the bottom where the dam had been breeched for many years and the pond had really turned into a seasonal mud hole instead of a pond. And found these while digging new portion of daughters pond near a seasonal creek under about 4 feet of soil (probably ancient crawdad holes covered up by a hundred years of sediment).

I have found at least one piece of literature that states the burrowing type rarely cause water loss from the pond. This seems to be in conflict of the general message here on PBF. My suspicion is that in my particular area where they are native, they will nearly always show up in areas that tend to stay wet and may seasonally flood. Found evidence in all three old ponds I have refurbished. I also suspect in our clay pan soils (where there is no clay liner to be perforated and we do not have to have compacted pond bottoms to hold water) the burrowing does not cause that much concern. I can't recall ever seeing the mounds in a pond dam (not saying they can't be, just saying I have not observed it). I always see them in a seasonally wet area where the water enters the pond from the watershed. But having said that (that I'm not too worried about that type draining a pond in SE Ks), they also probably would do very little in the way of being beneficial as fish forage. They spend most of their lives in a burrow near the pond but not in the pond, where they could be consumed by the fish.

So for fish forage it seems I want a type that lives in the water. The paper shell seems the recomended variety here on PBF. But I am thinking that maybe the Northern variety may be very similar to the paper shell, but just the locally resident and adapted variety to this area. After all, the paper shell (Calico) is shown to be native to the northern part of Kansas, but not here in the south. If the Northern would be similar to the paper shell in characteristics, but better adapted to this area, they might be a better choice than the paper shell plus the additional benefit of not introducing a non-native species.

I'm mostly thinking out loud esshup and Bill Cody. These are just thoughts I am coming up with from reading more than I ever previously knew I wanted to know about crayfish last night, and thinking of possibilities for my new tiny forage pond. I am in no way trying to say my opinion is correct, but am bouncing ideas off you guys and others to see if my logic and way of thinking has merit.

Currently I am thinking it would be of no benefit of stocking the burrowing type (though probably of no great harm in our particular situation because we have the burrowing type everywhere there is seasonal water like in road ditches and even in ponds if we have the correct conditions to support them). The type that live in creeks and streams might work out well, or as esshup suggests they might just migrate back to the (very close nearby) stream they came from.

Just thinking out loud and seeking input. I would not mind ordering some of the soft shell (Calico) but am concerned of several web sites talking about Kansas and Missouri discouraging introducing non native species. Although I would imagine bait shops probably sell the Calico.

I don't recall ever setting foot in a bait shop. Maybe it is time I did and do some inquiring. wink


Attachments
Jpond3 002.JPG (702 downloads)
Description: old crawdad holes filled in found during sons pond renovation

Jpond3 001.JPG (651 downloads)
Description: this is down after the muck was cleaned out and maybe an extra foot or two.




Edited by snrub (04/04/14 12:40 PM)
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#371218 - 04/04/14 12:33 PM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
esshup Offline
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snrub:

You're on the right track. With the equipment and knowledge that you have, you can pretty easily fix any whups that you might run across. That's the way we learn, is by trying different things.

Everybody's ponds are different too. Cecil only has a narrow dam between 2 ponds where a burrowing cray might cause a problem, others like myself have sandy soil, dug ponds with no dam, so burrowing wouldn't cause any more problems than there already are.

Habitat for the crayfish makes a HUGE difference in whether they survive or not. For example, I use my pond as a test bed. It's a LONG ways to any other waterway. I stocked a couple hundred Rusty's in my pond a year before I renovated it. Without places to hide, the LMB and CC ate every one - 0 crayfish were found in the pond during renovations. I had WEM and Spatterdock in my pond before the renovations, and I didn't care if the Rustys ate all the plants. They were eaten before they could!
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#371219 - 04/04/14 12:48 PM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: esshup]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Ok. That is helpful information.

That is where I am thinking that in my new forage pond they might be beneficial. In the big pond they are likely going to get slaughered like in your pond (once my LMB get big enough, bass only a few inches long right now). But if I have a ready supply to trap and throw right next door into the big pond, maybe they would survive long enough to eat some vegetation (filamentous algae right now) before they become LMB snacks.

Something to play with anyway.


Edited by snrub (04/04/14 12:49 PM)
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#371744 - 04/09/14 11:03 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
Lukkyseven Offline


Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 305
Loc: Maryland
I stocked 500 papershells (from a source I no longer trust), but I believe I actually got papershells. I see maybe a mound or two around my 1/4 acre pond.

The problem I found is that my pond has some drainage pipes running into it and the crays crawled up them. I am making a lot of attempts to add crayfish habitat this year to keep them happy and staying in the pond. My other problem is I have a stream that comes within 200ft of the pond. I have no way of telling if they are migrating to that stream or not.

I stocked 500 last year and have no predators for them this year. I'm hoping they pull off a good spawn. My goal for crayfish was to use their spawn as an additional food source for my YOY. Pond goals have changed for me now, but I would still like to have a spawning population of crays.

We'll see where I end up in a few years

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#371746 - 04/09/14 11:22 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
Bill Cody Offline
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snrub - Your thinking after reading some info sounds okay. I think the northern crayfish will be as good as calico (papershell) in your ponds. I doubt the papershell will migrate out of your pond to the creek as long as the pond has ample habitat and food. Not too sure about migration tendency of the northern crayfish. Different crayfish species have different or unique migration and digging habits.
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#371747 - 04/09/14 11:30 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: Lukkyseven]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Hope you have a good spawn.

I read a fair amount about crayfish, and it seems like even the ones considered "non-burrowing" will make burrows if water becomes limited. They burrow down to create water to keep their gills wet I would assume.

The real burrowing type, on the other hand, we can find out in a farm field an eighth of a mile from any water. In our creek bottom fields that are in the flood plain, in the summer as it gets dry, I have seen the mounds out in the middle of the field. One time I kicked the mud seal off the top and dropped a tiny clod down the hole. I heard it hit water I would guess about 3 feet down.

Good luck. I have a trap set out to try and catch some what I assume will be "northern" crayfish in a small seasonal creek behind my ponds. Have half a BG in the trap and nothing yet. Think the water may be a little too cold yet. I want to catch them early before they spawn and put some in my new forage pond. Only has about 6" of water so far, but these crayfish live in a few inches of water in the creek so think it will be ok till rain fills the pond. Will see if I have any luck trapping some.

Get this............. this source Northern Crayfish says the Soft Shell or Calico makes mud chimneys (towards the bottom of article belor "other crayfish in Manitoba). So what is going on? Is this source incorrect? Or can all crayfish burrow and make chimneys? Just some more so than others? I'm confused (which is not really unusual).


Edited by snrub (04/09/14 11:49 AM)
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#371751 - 04/09/14 11:56 AM Just found this [Re: snrub]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Will read this later tonight but should have some information relative to my needs and maybe others.

Talks about "Kansas Pond Crayfish", so that ought to be close enough to home for my purposes. Was actually written by Purdue.

Culture Potential of Selected Crayfish

Quote about the Papershell:
Orconectes immunis
are widely dispersed
throughout the North Central Region of the
United States. Hobbs and Jass (1988) describe the
range as extending from Colorado and Wyoming
in the west to the New England states in the east.
O. immunis
are found north to Ontario and
Manitoba, Canada, and south to Mississippi and
Alabama. They primarily inhabit ponds, backwa-
ters, and slow moving streams. They can tolerate
lower dissolved oxygen levels than other species
(Bovbjerg 1970) and can sometimes be found in
temporary pools. They have been known to walk
considerable distances overland (Crocker and
Barr 1968), then burrow when ponds dry or with
the approach of autumn (Gunderson and
Kapuscinski 1992). In many permanent waters,
the papershell crayfish does not burrow
(Hobbs
and Jass 1988). They are frequently found in
muddy, soft-bottomed lakes which support
vegetation (Tack 1941). (my emphasis underlined)

So sounds like they can burrow when needed, but usually don't when adequate water is available.


Edited by snrub (04/09/14 12:02 PM)
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#371759 - 04/09/14 12:31 PM Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
It appears the variety that I find in our ditch in front of our house might be different from the variety found in the stream below our house. Hopefully I can catch some later this spring and compare.

Here is an atricle about a study done on two species of Kansas crayfish. Most may not be interested in this information, but putting it here in case others in the same general area might find the information useful at some future point.

Immunis and Nais varieties

Specifically it says Immunis is found in roadside ditches, Nais is found in streams and ponds. (Douglas county Kansas, north of me a ways). So I still don't know what is here locally, as Immunis (Paper shell or Calico) are supposed to be north of here and the Northern variety Virillis is what is supposed to be here. But we have lots of crayfish in our roadside ditches and lots of crayfish in our streams and ponds. So still not sure what variety I have here on this place, but it sounds like it (or more than one) might be suitable for inclusion in a forage pond. The article also states that each variety is found in a specific type of habitat and rarely found together. Yet the paper shell (Immunis)is what is most often sold commercially for ponds............ still confused.

Edit: Ok this quote makes me believe this is the most likely variety for my area and should be suitable for inclusion in my forage pond:
Culture Potential of Selected Crayfishes

O. nais aka water nymph crayfish
is found in a range of aquatic areas. It is
found in both slowly moving to swiftly moving
streams. It is also found in ponds and ditches
which are free of vegetation and also choked with
vegetation (Williams and Leonard 1952)

O. nais
is not a primary burrowing species, but
lives in open water and under rocks. At times it
will make shallow burrows under grass tussocks
at the edge of the water and in muddy or clayey
banks (Williams and Leonard 1952).



Edited by Bill Cody (04/09/14 02:21 PM)
Edit Reason: added common name
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#371768 - 04/09/14 02:14 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
Bill Cody Offline
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Snrub is becoming our resident expert on crayfish. Keep up the good work. Learning from reading and experience does make one knowledgable about a subject.
Snrub concludes about papershells (calicos) : "So sounds like they can burrow when needed, but usually don't when adequate water is available."
I agree with this conclusion and it is my experience which is confirmed by the nationally known crayfish expert Roger Thoma. There are no doubt several species that can live in pond type habitats with the same lifestyle of usually not making deep burrows but will burrow when needed to keep themselves moist or wet. Orconectes nais (water nymph crayfish) apparently has a similar lifestyle as the papershell - calico crayfish (O. immunus).

Crayfish burrowing behavior falls into two categories primary and secondary. Each specie tends to 'fall into' one of the categories. Primary being always or usually making burrows and secondary rarely or occasionally creating burrows.

For Reference: the northern crayfish is technically called Orconectes virilis. Here is some basic info about O. virilis the northern crayfish.
http://www.naturenorth.com/fall/crayfish/Fcray2.html

Species of crayfish that belong to the genus Orconectes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orconectes

Snrub notes above that papershell crayfish is commonly sold for ponds. You should be careful and buyer beware when buying crayfish for pond stocking. Sellers often do not know well how to recognize crayfish species. Crayfish are often harder to tell apart than fish - similar to identifying 'shiner minnows'. What type or specie of crayfish that you buy can depend on the location of the grower. What ever lives or they collect in their fish pond is what the fish farm sells. I have bought crayfish that had both papershell and rusty crayfish in the same "bucket". I sorted them before putting them in my pond.

Luckyseven notes: "I stocked 500 papershells (from a source I no longer trust), but I believe I actually got papershells. I see maybe a mound or two around my 1/4 acre pond."
I also stocked about 500 crayfish in a minnow pond and see a few crayfish mounds or holes around this same pond. However the mounds and holes outside the pond are not built by papershell crayfish, but by a different genus of crayfish the Cambarus (mudbug) which migrated into the pond from the local creek.

I agree, chimney mounds outside a pond are almost never made by papershell crayfish if the pond has water in it. Often creek or ditch dwelling crayfish will travel long distances during rainy nights.


Edited by Bill Cody (01/14/15 09:20 AM)
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#371784 - 04/09/14 04:06 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
dlowrance Offline


Registered: 01/09/12
Posts: 904
Loc: Central IL
Very interesting post...I learned this past weekend that I have sorely underestimated the importance of crayfish in my specific ecology.

Caught 8 'eating size' LMB out of the little pond. I checked the stomach contents of the 4 largest. The contents consisted of:

1 small LMB
literally dozens of crayfishes - whole and in parts

obviously as of right now anyway the crayfish are a major food source for my small pond.

I believe I'll be switching colors on some of my lure selections.
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#371787 - 04/09/14 04:18 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
canyoncreek Offline


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Posts: 2153
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The bass don't eat the rusty crayfish? Seems like they are hardy and prolific enough that the bass wouldn't mind eating them as well?

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#371788 - 04/09/14 04:24 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: canyoncreek]
RER Offline


Registered: 01/23/12
Posts: 1926
Loc: N FL
Originally Posted By: canyoncreek
The bass don't eat the rusty crayfish? Seems like they are hardy and prolific enough that the bass wouldn't mind eating them as well?


my lake in WI has rustys and the bass eat the heck out of them.
They can be considered invasive and it is said to not spread them. Im sure most the water bodies near you in W. MI. already have them as the primary crayfish though.


Edited by BobbyRice (04/09/14 04:25 PM)
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#371809 - 04/09/14 09:25 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
Bill Cody Offline
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Bass eat rusty crayfish but just not as easily as papershells. Rustys get a little larger and more defensive than papershells, thus the adults would last longer as a breeding population. As usual there are pros and cons to everything you do in your pond. It all depends.
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#371853 - 04/10/14 10:32 AM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
Lukkyseven Offline


Registered: 04/20/11
Posts: 305
Loc: Maryland
I would not mind having a defensive crayfish in my pond at all. My bass wont be large enough to eat adult crayfish until next year, so I'm hoping the 500 I stocked in my 1/4 will be able to establish a good footing by that time.

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#371857 - 04/10/14 11:17 AM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: snrub]
george1 Offline
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Posts: 3794
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Hey, you guys are wasting time discussing a simple subject.
All you need is a big pot of Cajun seasoned boiling water over a big propane burner - add small new potatoes and corn on the cob and drop a big sack of mudbugs the size of small lobsters!
Serve them on newspapers on tables and chow down for a feast!
Yeah, suck the heads!!
Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - good!
laugh
G/
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#371864 - 04/10/14 12:05 PM Re: Types of crayfish [Re: george1]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
smile Reminds me of a time our scuba diving club held an event at a regional lake. One of the activities was a night dive/snorkel (could do either one) for a crawdad "hunt". Gave out prizes for largest, most, etc crawdads. My oldest son might have been 9 or 10 years old and he and I snorkeled and caught crawdads together. The guys on Scuba pretty well took the "biggest" category as the larger ones were down a little deeper. Son and I mostly floated on the top of the water close to the shore with our lights and picked up tons of small ones. Dove down a few feet if we saw one. We did pretty good on the numbers part as the smaller ones were pretty thick up in the shallows of this cove we were in. He has always remembered that night fondly and comments on it once in a while.

Then after the awards were calculated the bugs went into a pot of boiling water with some "crab boil" seasoning and we had a feast. I'm not much of a seafood eater so the taste did not impress me that much but my wife loves lobster and she thought the fresh crawdads tasted pretty close. She consumed my share.

Good times. grin


Edited by snrub (04/10/14 12:05 PM)
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#371865 - 04/10/14 12:10 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: Lukkyseven]
snrub Offline


Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 5577
Loc: SE Kansas
Originally Posted By: Lukkyseven
I would not mind having a defensive crayfish in my pond at all. My bass wont be large enough to eat adult crayfish until next year, so I'm hoping the 500 I stocked in my 1/4 will be able to establish a good footing by that time.


Be sure to let us know how it turns out. I'm going to try and capture some local ones and put them in my new forage pond to see if I can produce some for my main pond. Don't now if A. I can catch enough to do any good and B. the FHM's that I just put in the pond to reproduce will leave the crayfish alone enough to ever allow the young to make it.

I've lined about half of the forage pond with 2-3" limestone rock so the tiny ones should have some cover.

Gives me something interesting to try out anyway and if the crayfish fail, I still have the FHM's


Edited by snrub (04/10/14 12:11 PM)
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#371896 - 04/10/14 06:08 PM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
esshup Offline
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Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 24147
Loc: Grovertown, Indiana
I'd bet that I was eating crawfish out of the local lake before any other Yankee thought about it. wink

My little sister wasn't even in kindergarden yet.
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#371958 - 04/11/14 05:36 AM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
MSC Offline


Registered: 10/10/13
Posts: 339
Loc: Southern Maryland
I'm from Southern Maryland, and if anyone thinks crayfish taste great, I guess you haven't had steamed blue crabs. Sorry had to get that in. smile

Anyhow we have lots of different crayfish species here. We have the common and the virile and the devil, but we also have white rivers and red swamps.

I come across some impressive crayfish holes in my travels. Like his one.



I fish lots of ponds. I always spot these crayfish holes, I'll take some more pics. But the ponds around here are all creek fed with a spillway back into the creek. These native crayfish come in from the creeks, into the ponds.

The level in these ponds never fluctuates. The holes do not make a difference here.

I'll bet if a pond had rip rap shoreline, it wouldn't have crayfish holes. wink

But if anyone was worried about crayfish making holes, shucks just put your own crayfish holes in the pond.



Edited by MSC (04/11/14 06:27 AM)
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#371959 - 04/11/14 05:45 AM Re: Another article on Kansas crayfish [Re: snrub]
MSC Offline


Registered: 10/10/13
Posts: 339
Loc: Southern Maryland
I also noticed that they move across land when its wet or rainy. My house is way uphill and about 150 yards away through the woods from a stormwater easement type pond. No roads trails or anything, just woods.

We have spotted not only crayfish but turtles including snappers and pond turtles in our yard. I don't know what they are looking for, except the pond turtles lay eggs in my yard and bury them.
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