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#567084 05/16/24 11:22 PM
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Crafted my very first crayfish trap over the last couple of days. Got it to where I was happy with it, decided to deploy the trap this morning to see if I could find a good location for some crays in the creek just south of the pond. Have 4 bridges close, looked at each one of them and settled in on a small pool just below a riffle. There was an old tree and a bit of debris with some nice rocky outcroppings close by. It looked really good for crayfish.

Baited up the trap with some dogfood, set it in the water, tied it off to the bridge and headed back home to get a little work done. Checked the trap this evening and man-o-man did I ever hit the motherlode of bluegill and green sunfish! Must have been 30+ of them in the 3-4" range.

Set the little buggers free back into the creek and decided to try again in slightly shallower water out of the base of the pool.

Looking forward to checking things again tomorrow. Not really ready to stock the crayfish yet but would like to narrow down a spot for the trapping and what species of crayfish I can find.


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Great report!!


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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I also did traps in my creek with dog food (for minnows).

GSF were by far my biggest haul, and usually with zero minnows. I don't know if I was not set up correctly for minnows, or if once the trap started holding GSF, then the minnows would stay away.

I had much better luck seining to collect all types of fish species in each pool. I don't know if there are any crayfish in the shifting sands of my creek. However, we used to seine them up in rocky creeks when I was a kid.

If you have to go that route, perhaps chum the waters first with some sinking dog food?

I can (poorly) run my 10' seine by myself. If you do perfect your technique of drawing out the crayfish, then perhaps you can go back with a family member or buddy and seine out a useful number of the critters.

Good luck!

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I've had some good success trapping crayfish with raw bacon. You would need to contain the bacon as it will fall apart. I put some in the end of some panty hose and tied it off.

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A dead snake is the best thing I've found for luring crawfish into a trap.

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Moved the trap to a new location. Switched up the bait to sardines in spring water. This time I caught 50-60 BG and GS. I'm not sure there is a cray in the creek.

Emptied the trap to let it soak overnight. Have a couple more spots to try.

Gotta say....I thought trapping crays was gonna be a quick easy task in the creek. I figured the tough part was going to more on identification but for that to happen....I need to catch some first.

Interestingly I haven't seen a single small bullhead or catfish either. Just the BG and GS that are very excited to swin in the trap.

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Originally Posted by Augie
A dead snake is the best thing I've found for luring crawfish into a trap.


So many questions...


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Have any of the GSF been large enough to eat a crayfish? Might need to look down the mouth of the largest couple of GSF and see if there are any crayfish feelers sticking up from the gullet. You might be catching a few small crayfish?

I never caught any catfish in my creek traps for most of the year despite seeing a ball of CC in my deepest pool that held a wide variety of fish. Then late in the fall I caught 4 yellow bullheads in the trap with nothing else.

I would not have thought trapping in my creek was "seasonal" dependent, but I did observe a large variance. (However, my "sample size" was small.)

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Overnight soak yielded one additional BG with no crays. To the question on the Green Sunfish....Yes, I think they are large enough to take out small crays. I did do a little google searching this morning after checking the trap. It sounds like one of the local bait shops has a 100% catch rate on Northerns/Calico mix at $10 per lb.

I think I've spent at least 5lbs worth of gas trying to find these little buggers.


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Originally Posted by Sunil
Originally Posted by Augie
A dead snake is the best thing I've found for luring crawfish into a trap.


So many questions...

Seems like someone here at PB mentioned using snakes as crawfish bait but it's been awhile so I could be off on that.

I'm always trapping for BG. Water snakes love an easy meal so I wind up with drowned snakes in the traps.

Anyway, I had a dead snake so I tossed it into a trap and gave it a soak. The trap was stuffed when I pulled it the next day.
The next time I had a dead snake I tried it again - same result.

HIghly recommended.

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so the next logical question is, how does one trap snakes to turn into crayfish food? It appears you have a setup that works well as a trap but these must be the 'watersnake' type? We have harmless garter snakes here but my wife would find my immensely attractive if I could find a way to depopulate the snake in the vicinity of the house and garden. I know, I know, I have told her they are harmless and helpful in many ways to keep around....

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That is a funny story Augie!

I have seen the water snakes catch fish in my creek using the FA. I don't know how the snakes utilize the FA to their advantage, but I have observed them several times shaking their heads when they have a fish caught in their mouth along with some FA.

I could definitely see them using a trap to help them strike a fish that was not hiding "properly" in the water.

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So, I have tried on multiple occasions to trap these little buggers and they have completely evaded my efforts. My homemade trap has yielded LMB, BG, GSF, Tadpoles, I'm sure a mixed species of various sunfish which I've lumped into the BG category and 1 snake (in the last outing where somebody found the trap and threw it back up on shore out of the water).

We do have some pond plants getting established in the pond and they are looking pretty good. 30ish pickerel weed, 15 duck potato have rooted themselves in 12-18" of water. We have some lily still in pots that are looking a little weak. Our soft rush attempt was a no go. We will likely continue to work on the plants and surround them with 1/4" wire mesh at the new installs.

Which brings me to stocking the crays. Would love to get some of these guys started so that next spring the hatch is available as forage for the LMB, YP, RES, and BG. Smith Creek says their current Calico/Papershell stock is approx 100 count per lb. Is there an initial stocking rate for a new pond with smallish fish?

RES stocked at +/- 3" April 2024
BG stocked at 3-5" April 2024
YP stocked at 4-7" March 2024
LMB possible stocking this fall with 20-30 Jumpers in the 6-10" range.

Pond is 1.5 acres with 5-600' feet of riprap edge and some nice rock outcroppings in the main pool.


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Lots of experts on Pond Boss, but experimental data is also very helpful.

I might buy just 200 and split them between the terminations of your rip-rap areas where you have plants growing nearby. If they decimate your plants in those areas, then you know you will need to stock in very low numbers, and far away from your desirable plants. If they do create a breeding population in your rip rap, but you only find little ones next spring when you pick up rocks in that specific area, then you can stock in higher numbers next year.

Your existing fish (plus your soon to arrive LMB) all will eat some crayfish. However, I (non-expert) think you can still establish crayfish easily if your habitat is favorable - as long as that occurs before the OFFSPRING of your current fish reach crayfish consuming size!

Hopefully, some actual experts will drop into your thread. In my limited experience, I believe crayfish are an awesome supplemental food source! So I hope you are successful.

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Originally Posted by Boondoggle
So, I have tried on multiple occasions to trap these little buggers and they have completely evaded my efforts. My homemade trap has yielded LMB, BG, GSF, Tadpoles, I'm sure a mixed species of various sunfish which I've lumped into the BG category and 1 snake (in the last outing where somebody found the trap and threw it back up on shore out of the water).

We do have some pond plants getting established in the pond and they are looking pretty good. 30ish pickerel weed, 15 duck potato have rooted themselves in 12-18" of water. We have some lily still in pots that are looking a little weak. Our soft rush attempt was a no go. We will likely continue to work on the plants and surround them with 1/4" wire mesh at the new installs.

Which brings me to stocking the crays. Would love to get some of these guys started so that next spring the hatch is available as forage for the LMB, YP, RES, and BG. Smith Creek says their current Calico/Papershell stock is approx 100 count per lb. Is there an initial stocking rate for a new pond with smallish fish?

RES stocked at +/- 3" April 2024
BG stocked at 3-5" April 2024
YP stocked at 4-7" March 2024
LMB possible stocking this fall with 20-30 Jumpers in the 6-10" range.

Pond is 1.5 acres with 5-600' feet of riprap edge and some nice rock outcroppings in the main pool.

Weren't the BG 3"-3.5"?

Get the underwater plants established before adding the craws. You need underwater plants like American Pondweed, Sago Pondweed etc. to get established before adding the craws. Or be prepared to annually stock Tilapia OR spray the FA every two weeks.

Last edited by esshup; 06/11/24 10:44 PM.

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Predominately 3" BG. I was able to pick up a limited number of the larger 4-5" but they were in there.

Tilapia may be a thing annually. I think nearly 100% of the ponds in the area are more than 50% covered with FA right now. Not quite the look we are going for.


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FA and just about everything else is growing like gainbusters here!

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Originally Posted by catscratch
FA and just about everything else is growing like gainbusters here!

If you posted that picture in a tilapia travel magazine, I bet they would be heading to your pond in the thousands!

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Originally Posted by catscratch
FA and just about everything else is growing like gainbusters here!

If you posted that picture in a tilapia travel magazine, I bet they would be heading to your pond in the thousands!
Ha! I wish I had the funds for an approximate stocking. They'd be welcomed!

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Originally Posted by esshup
Get the underwater plants established before adding the craws. You need underwater plants like American Pondweed, Sago Pondweed etc. to get established before adding the craws. Or be prepared to annually stock Tilapia OR spray the FA every two weeks.

Does this mean that without other plants growing, FA will take all the nutrients and flourish?

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Originally Posted by Knobber
Originally Posted by esshup
Get the underwater plants established before adding the craws. You need underwater plants like American Pondweed, Sago Pondweed etc. to get established before adding the craws. Or be prepared to annually stock Tilapia OR spray the FA every two weeks.

Does this mean that without other plants growing, FA will take all the nutrients and flourish?
That's how I took it. Trading one thing for another. Nutrients WILL get used.

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Originally Posted by Knobber
Originally Posted by esshup
Get the underwater plants established before adding the craws. You need underwater plants like American Pondweed, Sago Pondweed etc. to get established before adding the craws. Or be prepared to annually stock Tilapia OR spray the FA every two weeks.

Does this mean that without other plants growing, FA will take all the nutrients and flourish?

I think esshup's advice is two-fold. Yes photosynthesizing organisms are going to compete for nutrients, so try to get as many nutrients going into plants you like.

The other issue (I think?) is that it is difficult to get bottom-rooted plants established in ponds with heavy crayfish populations.

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Craws were horrible on plant growth in my mostly bare pond, but I had overstocked the craws, too soon compared to fish stocking & plant establishment. And, my pond is pretty muddy, so the plants had a hard way to go to begin with. I used a small trap made specifically for craws to use in the wet weather creek on my place. It was cylindrical with to funnel shaped inlets, one on each end. The inlet holes were about 1-1/2" diameter. Big enough for craws and minnows, but small enough to not allow a 4" fish in. My creek was not heavy with craws, but you could kick some rocks around and see some within a 5-minute outing. I used fish food put in a short sock and tied to the inside with a wire tie. Dog food worked, but fish food worked better. I'd watch the weather so as not to put the trap in before a big rain and risk losing it to the creek coming up. Otherwise, I'd leave it in 24/7 and check it daily...changing the food sock out when it started to go rancid, every few days. Man, did it get to stinking and that lessened the catch. My creek would dry up to ground water pools most of the time, and I would move the trap from pool to pool as the catch weakened. I caught several hundred per year for two years in a row to add to my pond. They were scarcely ever over 2" long, but grew up to 5 or 6 inches long in the pond. Eventually, I stocked CC in the pond and the overabundance of large craws was over. That was about 3 years ago, but the craws are still there, but rarely seen. The plants are doing much better! I do miss trapping the craws out of the pond and having boils, but it was more of a chore, most of the time, as I was trying to get plants started and the craws really liked to uproot them.


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Originally Posted by Augie
Originally Posted by Sunil
Originally Posted by Augie
A dead snake is the best thing I've found for luring crawfish into a trap.


So many questions...

Seems like someone here at PB mentioned using snakes as crawfish bait but it's been awhile so I could be off on that.

I'm always trapping for BG. Water snakes love an easy meal so I wind up with drowned snakes in the traps.

Anyway, I had a dead snake so I tossed it into a trap and gave it a soak. The trap was stuffed when I pulled it the next day.
The next time I had a dead snake I tried it again - same result.

HIghly recommended.
You are correct, it was me and still my best craw attractant today.

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Steve, I would wait to stock craws until 1 year after stocking bass. You will not have a plant left in the pond by the time bass are big enough to consume the right size craws.
I destroyed a couple years worth of work by stocking craws too early, in fact if it were me (it's not), I'd wait until late spring '26 if stocking bass late '24 so your females will be berried up.

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