First crayfish haul

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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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So I took a walk down to the source of my crayfish this evening for a first go at getting me some. I will be taking the American Signal Crayfish which (if you weren't aware) is an invasive species. My technique is simple. I knot a ball of smoked bacon onto a bank line and lob it in the water, then sit quietly and wait. It didn't take long before the first critter latched on. My gosh I got excited! . I honestly didn't think it would be that easy or happen that quickly. The bacon had only been in the water for 5 minutes. I gently pulled the crayfish in to the bank and snatched him up. Best way is to grab him in thumb and forefinger, on the sides of his body right behind the claws. Pull him out of the water and turn him upside down. I'm no expert, this is my first time catching crayfish, but it works! I was grinning like an idiot as I dropped him into a tub. I repeated the process for about 45 minutes until I had 5 of the beauties. It was getting dark so happy with my first haul, I trotted off home to cook them up.

Here they are, tipped out into the sink.



Quite a good size. I'm not sure if anyone else traps the same stretch of river. Here's a few close ups.





I despatched them by piercing them in the head, them lobbed them into salted boiling water for 8 minutes. Once nice and orange I put them straight into cold water to cool.



When they were cold I put them on a plate with some honey and mustard mayo dip. I devoured them all within minutes. Very sweet, very tasty. Very worth the time to catch. Now I'm totally confident of the location and of getting crayfish of decent size, I'll tag my crayfish traps and bring in the harvest!

*Disclaimer.

I have a crayfish licence and all correct tags for my traps. I also have permission from the landowner to access the river and the water bailiffs consent.

Do not trap American Signal Crayfish without the correct licences or permissions. Make sure you know the difference between American Signal Crayfish and native British crayfish, the latter are protected.

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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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Nice little taster there :)

Did you purge them before cooking them?
Nope. The river they are in is shallow and fast flowing. The water is clear. These were caught, cooked and eaten all within an hour and a half. I was gonna click out the poop pipe prior to boiling but I forgot. I removed it when I shelled them.

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santaman2000

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I’m not sure if it really matters since you killed them first. We usually throw into the boiling water live (like crabs, lobster and most shellfish) and they both poop and throw up when you do. That might not be a factor if they’re already dead.
 

Woody girl

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I’m not sure if it really matters since you killed them first. We usually throw into the boiling water live (like crabs, lobster and most shellfish) and they both poop and throw up when you do. That might not be a factor if they’re already dead.
I think I'd poop and throw up if I was thrown into boiling water!!!!. Much kinder to kill them cleanly first. The stress any meat is put through in its moments of death will affect the taste because of the adrenaline pumping through its body at that point. Remember clean kill.. clean meat. Sorry if I'm preaching but please be kind to your lobsters crabs etc and put them out of their misery before you boil them.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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They die instantly when thrown into a rolling boil water.
Crayfish like other similar creatures do not have a brain as such, but a string of nerve ganglia from the front running to the rear.

They empty themselves a little bit because the heat coagulates the proteins in the body, which then contracts.
The intestine ( with poo) is harmless to eat, I must have eaten football pitch lengths of it....
Always start removing it, but when the cold Vodka hits the brain cells, I do not care anymore...

It is one of those weird Swedish traditions foreign devils will never understand, eating dill weed flavored crayfish, wheat bread with gallons of Vodka. August tradition.

Those crayfish look delicious!
 
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santaman2000

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Jan 15, 2011
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I think I'd poop and throw up if I was thrown into boiling water!!!!. Much kinder to kill them cleanly first. The stress any meat is put through in its moments of death will affect the taste because of the adrenaline pumping through its body at that point. Remember clean kill.. clean meat. Sorry if I'm preaching but please be kind to your lobsters crabs etc and put them out of their misery before you boil them.
What Jane said. In fact that’s very likely the quickest death. Generally they also taste much better if still live when thrown into the water. Also realize that SOME crabs aren’t killed at all. Stone Crabs are never killed unless by accident. Primarily because it’s illegal to harvest the entire crab. Instead you catch it, pull off one claw, then release the crab to grow a new one.

Stone Crabs:
https://images.app.goo.gl/4C8fkSViEduXHU897

Stone Crab claws:
https://images.app.goo.gl/AmFhqk8LJQfbddgD6

Stone Crab harvest laws: https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/stone-crab/

Crawfish on the other hand would be highly impractical yo kill them first as you normally cook several dozen (sometimes several hundred) at a time for a family boil, or even several thousand at a time at a public crawfish festival. These first two pictures were at my daughter’s house a few years ago. In this incident it was shrimp, but crawfish are done the exact same way.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210787280184810&set=a.10210787279864802&type=3&sfns=mo

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10210787290665072&set=a.10210787279864802&type=3&sfns=mo

This picture was at a public crawfish festival over a two day period (just one batch of dozens)
https://images.app.goo.gl/DyfVEvCJbMKj2nci6

And finally, a typical family crawfish boil (I don’t add mushrooms nor sausage, although the sausage is typical) Also notice how he eats them: pinch the tail off, suck the fat from the head, then peel and eat the tail like a shrimp tail)

They die instantly when thrown into a rolling boil water.
Crayfish like other similar creatures do not have a brain as such, but a string of nerve ganglia from the front running to the rear.

They empty themselves a little bit because the heat coagulates the proteins in the body, which then contracts.
The intestine ( with poo) is harmless to eat, I must have eaten football pitch lengths of it....
Always start removing it, but when the cold Vodka hits the brain cells, I do not care anymore...

It is one of those weird Swedish traditions foreign devils will never understand, eating dill weed flavored crayfish, wheat bread with gallons of Vodka. August tradition.

Those crayfish look delicious!
 
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Woody girl

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Well I have read studies that show that despite not having the same sort of brain as you and I they do feel some pain.
If they have no brain how do they see? They are not insects!
It's still better to at least put them into a cold torpor before boiling them. Ever seen crabs trying to climb out of a pot of boiling water? If they had no incling of danger why would they?
Yes as you might have guessed I'm mainly vegetarian though I do eat fish crab and prawn now and then so not a strict preachy type.. I just realy prefer veggie style meals, and am concerned about animals welfare and eating to many steroids and antibiotics!
But having strayed away from crayfish topic. These dam Yankee crays need eradication so fill your boots with them!
As I'm sure most know they have decimated our natural species and they undermine the bank sides too.
One problem that has been found here on the moor is that if you just take the big ones you end up with more big ones not less as you might imagine. The bigger ones keep the smaller ones under controll by eating them... yes realy.
Also do not put any back. Once in your trap or removed from the water they cannot be put back and have to be killed. Even if you get a very tiny weeny one.
It's a free food source we should be making use of as they are in most rivers and waterways in the UK.
 
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Janne

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The ganglia are acting as brains. The thing is, they do not have ONE nerve organ acting as a brain, but several.
Of course they feel pain, but we do not know in which ganglia. maybe they feel pain in all. Each ganglia feels pain coming from one body area?

Yes, they need to be eaten, those American invaders! :)
 
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santaman2000

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Jan 15, 2011
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Agreed, they most likely feel pain. My point was that immediate immersion into boiling water (already at a rolling boil before putting them in) causes near instant death. At least as near painless as any other method you would use to kill them before dropping them in.

And no, I’ve never seen crabs try to crawl out of the pot either. At least not when done properly (bring the water to a rolling boil before dropping them in) It kills them just as instantaneously. I have heard a lobster scream though (And yes, anesthetizing them first by putting them in cold for a while before dropping them in the water helps (about a half hour in the fridge is usually enough)

Agreed; eliminate the invasive species. But the way, although crawdads aren’t true insects, they are generally regarded as bugs here. They’re commonly referred to as “mud bugs” both in reasonably common language and on menus.
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Don't forget that oxygen concentration in water is measured in parts per million.
In air, oxygen is 21% (21 parts per hundred.) 10,000 times greater.
Those crayfish are so totally stoned on air/oxygen, they sense very little.

You might want to check with your wildlife agencies about food quality.
Here, we have some issues with agricultural fertilizer run off which leads the crayfish to pick up some
mercury from agricultural seed fungicide. Oddly not so much so in any of the game fish species.
 

Toddy

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There's a problem with taking out the big ones. They're not native, so there's not really many predators that take out their young, and the damned things outbreed everything else. However, they're cannibalistic and the big ones will eat the wee ones by the hundreds, so the more big ones around, the better, because they stop the population exploding.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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It's the same with any invasive species, no amount of 'catching' is going to eradicate them. Only targeted chemical/poison or contraception is likely to have any meaningful affect and those kinds of interaction always seem to have unplanned consequences.

The problem of catching large signal crayfish that would predate the small ones has often been quoted but they are not sexually mature until two to three years old when they are reasonably big so, taking the big ones out reduces the breeding population. Also, the female carries her 200 to 400 eggs with her, taking out a large female with eggs is the same as removing 200 to 400 crayfish from the system. I am happy to remove large crayfish to consume (with licence of course).

Otter and mink eat large numbers of crayfish - even salmon will eat them.

I fear we have to accept that mankind has replaced the predominant European crayfish (which was always eaten) with a larger and more successful species (which can also be eaten). It's worth remembering that the Signal Crayfish was only ever brought into this country because of the demand for the already declining European species.
 
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Janne

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I believe it was brought in to Europe because the European crayfish was being decimated by the nasty crayfish disease. it was not eaten out of existence, it died.

Even if the Signal was eradicated, the native crayfish will probably never come back. I do not know if the native could be modified or selectively bread to get immunity.
( I do not think many people give a hoot about it).

I have tasted both the Signal and the native, and using the same receipe, they taste the same. The Signal is much larger, so better eating.
 

Robson Valley

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I really enjoy going after invasives which compete with local species.
AND, those crayfish are big and edible. I have a solution for that.
Keep pulling the sexually mature ones. The breeding population.

I'd plan to eat them all, right at the shoreline!
 

Toddy

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It only needs a couple of bigger ones to survive to produce many thousands of young.....that gorge on everything they can. They strip our river systems, they really do.
More large size ones funnily enough results in a lot fewer little ones, because the big ones gorge on them :)

Round here the signal crayfish got loose from a duckpond high up near the burns that become the River Clyde. The idiots who brought them in didn't pay heed to the fact that the crayfish will happily go wandering looking for better eating, rather than staying in the pond to be eaten...and they walked down to the burn, and thus into the network that forms the Clyde :sigh:

The signal crayfish are the ones that are carrying the disease that's wiping out the native crayfish. That's why folks are supposed to get licences, and be careful to disinfect their kit and boots, etc., when they're catching signal crayfish. It's to stop them contaminating any other waters that they fish.

See Trapping, on this page.
https://www.waterways.org.uk/news_campaigns/campaigns/invasive_species/crayfish/signal_crayfish