Crawdads are an acquired taste

While channel surfing the other day I came upon a segment with a grandfather giving a young boy a lesson on the birds and the bees. Nothing new about this except that the granddad was using a grayfish for his demonstration. I’m pretty sure this was on the Outdoor Channel and granddad was one of the Duck Dynasty bearded sages. I learned a lot from the segment.

Now I’ve dealt with crayfish for years and whether you call them crayfish, crawdads, or even the misnomer term crabs, I’ve never checked to see if my fishing bait was a boy or a girl. All I know is that fish love to eat these little crustaceans. In many cultures humans also find them tasty. In fact I’ve even heard them referred to as freshwater lobsters.

I remember a bar in Louisiana that had an aquarium containing live crawdads for anyone desiring a tasty snack. I passed on the treat that time, but I have eaten a few just to try them out for myself. The ones I tried were small so I just cooked the tails like I would a shrimp. With a little hot sauce they were delicious and I would certainly eat them again. Just keep in mind that I have eaten other wild meats that the average city folk might find repulsive.

Even though I have no qualms about eating crawdads, I prefer to use them to catch bigger seafood. Bass love them so much that I know at least one expert bass angler who catches his share using a rubber crawdad. I believe his artificial crawdad even has a coffee scent. Now I don’t know if bass drink coffee, but this angler catches and releases a lot of both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Do walleyes like crawdads? Yep. If they did not why would so many lure manufacturers produce crawdad lookalikes? I make my own jigs and have begun coloring them in brown and black that I hope will entice a walleye looking for a crawdad meal. I’m not sure how I can add coffee to my jigs.

When it comes to catching channel catfish I put crawdads at the top of my list of favorite baits. A couple years ago my grandson, Trevor, was visiting and catching catfish after catfish from our dock. He kept a minnow trap tied off on the other side of the dock and instead of minnows caught enough crawdads to provide him plenty of catfish bait. When it comes to catching your own food turning a tiny crawdad into a 15-pound catfish is a very efficient way to go.

Before you can eat crayfish or use them for bait you need to catch a supply and under Ohio regulations you may possess 100 crayfish at a time. If you gather your bait while wadding a stream and turning over rocks you will do a lot of bending. Way too much bending for this old fogy. I use a baited minnow trap and catch enough for my use. If you are younger, or at least spryer than me, you should do well with a minnow seine. Just remember that there are specific rules about seine size and where it can be used. You must always check the DOW regulations before you try anything new.

I learned a lot from that segment on how to tell the sex of a crayfish so maybe television can be more than a vast wasteland. Even so, I hope the Ohio DOW never passes a regulation requiring me to use only male crawfish for bait. After all I’m an equal opportunity angler, and I doubt the fish I catch care if the treat I pass before them is male or female.

Now when it comes to pheasants and deer I need to be more particular.

More on air rifles

After last week’s column I was ready to buy a new air rifle.

Fortunately I first called my good friend and air rifle guru Rich Shar before I spent my money. Rich has done extensive study on air rifles, including slow-motion video of how an air rifle recoils.

Basically it goes forward before it recoils and that could be disastrous for a guy like me who has recent surgery for a detached retina. Rich’s advice might have saved me from more surgery, or worse.

More about this in a future column, but in the meantime Rich has graciously given me permission to use his email (rdshar5@comcast.net) if you have questions. Rich says he’s happy to help anyone with air rifle questions. I know I will continue to take advantage of his knowledge.