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#400443 02/11/15 01:39 PM
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Found this online. Helpful pictures of crayfish both native and non-native found in Michigan. If you read the forums you can see a dedicated group of folks going to their favorite rivers or lakes and working hard to trap rusty crayfish and then eating them. They have removed hundreds of pounds and given the native crayfish a new chance on life.

They claim crayfish are eating sturgeon eggs. They also find in the chain of lakes area in antrim county that there are big areas of loss of weeds and just sand beds left due to heavy rusty crayfish infestation

also some recent posts where they no longer worry about big fines if they are caught in possession of the rusties. Strange that the lakes are full of them but it is a big problem to be seen with them in your possession. Probably just trying to keep them from spreading in bait buckets etc to other lakes. But in November 2014 the Mich DNR changed the law that you are allowed to have them in your possession if you are transporting them home to EAT them.

I guess they said if you are seen with rusties and with a fishing pole you might still be in trouble.

There are dedicated trapping crews trying to keep the numbers down and then enjoying good eating thereafter!

I wonder how fast rusties could help take care of vegetation in a smaller lake or pond or if it would be noticeable?

I assume the problem with the rusties is that after a certain size they are too big to be eaten by walleye or other larger predators? Or maybe just too prolific in their egg production?

Great forum here at this link here:

Crayfish ID

Rest of the forum index here

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According to my research, Rustys grow larger than many native species and are more aggressive - not only outcompeting native crayfish but are less vulnerable to predation due to size and general badass attitude.

Several large bows up North have incurred complete vegetation denudation despite fisheries including apex predators like WE, YP, SMB, NP and Muskies. Somehow those fish didn't manage their populations, which is surprising. My guess is it's a combination of their larger size, aggressive defensive behavior, and maybe high fecundity that makes their impact so severe. To answer your question - in a pond environment I feel Rustys could easily manage or denude vegetation of all kinds, depending on population density and species/density of predators present. My papershell population controlled FA, Chara, American and Sago pondweed in a 1/2 acre pond without predation risk on adults. I was pretty amazed at their efficiency. Water also was fairly turbid compared to my other ponds with visibility around 24-30" due to their bottom foraging habits stirring up clay/silt. When we drained and seined the pond this Fall, we removed 8 5 Gallon buckets of adult crays - and I originally stocked 50 only 12 months prior. Again, I was surprised at their success.


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our chain of lakes in WI was invaded by rusty crays. changed the lake for a long time, depleted most of weed beds. Some mucky lakes stayed weedy however as the cray fish did not do well with just a muck bottom. It took nearly ten years but nature finally balanced its self out. The weeds beds are back and the lake is great. People think the rusrys are gone. Giant schools of minnows, crappy, WE its like an aqurium snorkeling.

But the lake is still loaded with rustys, I can snorkel around and every other rock or log has one under it.,

The SMB are so keyed in on them they follow me around waiting for me to flip things over then rush in looking. I will have a dozen 17 inchers following me around at times.

The LMG have really come on strong now that the weeb beds are back over the last 5 years. I never harvest the SMB but have some of the LMB. Every one has rustys in its belly.

I Feel with invaders, they will cause in inbalance for awhile but nature will find the new balnce that includes them eventually Of coarse in a small pond or smaller area things are a little differant.

Last edited by BobbyRice; 02/12/15 10:39 AM.

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Good report Bobby - I should think that with abundant forage, the predators able to handle Rustys should benefit at least. See RES in lake Havasu in AZ growing to epic proportions due to invasive mussels. It's good there's at least an upside, and maybe nature will eventually balance things out. Wonder how fisheries will respond to Asian Carp? Could we see muskies exceed 100# in the Great Lakes? confused


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Agree, thanks for the report Bobby. I go back to the same lake area every summer so I'll keep an eye for any sign of return of vegetation/weed beds and also consider opening the stomach of any legal SMB we catch to see what is in there.

I wonder if others should consider limited numbers of crayfish in smaller ponds (say 1/2 acre or less) for control of FA and nuisance weeds? I guess you would have to be ready to trap out the adults at some point if the numbers got out of hand.

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My theory is the that the SMB did ok during the initial invasion of rusty as they tend to like open rocky and gravely habitats any way. As things are now we catch LMB near weeds and SMB in open sandy and rocky areas, they tend to stay in eaches micro habitate with in the lakes.

Then the population boom had a crash and nature was able to take over and things got to a new slightly differant balance.

I saw a show on tv showing how the asian carp are showing signs of weakness with skinny not as healthy looking fish in areas from overpopulation, they are a totally differant beast though.

even the largest rustys get torn apart by the big SMB. I snorkel and fed them crafish a lot. one thing they do is grab the big ones too nasty to handle and shake it violently usually ripping off claws then circle back around and finish them off. Ill try to video tape this next summer.


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Good ideas - several of us use crayfish to manage vegetation currently - Cody uses them to keep his minnow brood cells free and clear IIRC. Presence of apex predators will impact cray population, thus determining the level of management they can perform.

Good report again - like to hear the SMB figured out a way to tame even the nastiest Rustys. I gotta see this video!


Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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There is a lake we vacation at here in MN. It is full of Rusty's. Yellow perch, smallmouths, and my entire family hammer them. mmmmmm gooood!




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those looks a little differant to me, the photo doesnt show the telling rust mark on the side they do hybridize with native I read though.

or it just the lighting and the photo


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It's a mixture of natives and Rusty. After we dump the traps, we sort and let the natives go back into the lake. Look at the one in the bottom right corner (rusty) vs. bottom left (native)

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gotcha! good idea.


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