A Comprehensive Guide on How to Catch Freshwater Crayfish in New Zealand
Crayfish are among the most diminutive crustaceans with less meat on them. However, they're actually among the tastiest! Crayfish are relatively easy to catch, provided with the right equipment, tools, technique, and knowledge. If you're looking to catch your crayfish so you can make your boil, then this article would greatly benefit you. In this article, we'll provide you with all the things you need to know about catching freshwater crayfish.
Preparations and choosing a trap
Just like any other venture, you'll have to prepare for it before actually doing it or before taking action. Before heading out to catch crayfish, you need first to familiarize yourself with the requirements and the rules and laws concerning catching or trapping animals in the wild. In certain countries, there are certain restrictions and conditions for the animals caught or hunted for food. In the case of catching freshwater crayfish, many countries require a fishing license for one to start fishing. Fishing authorities of each country provide this license, and it should be first sought or inquired before planning to catch crayfish - especially if you're looking to catch crayfish by a truckload!
Furthermore, there are also regulations and rules about catching particular sizes of crayfish. Ideally, you don't get to keep crayfish that are too small since they are still growing, and you also don't get to catch crayfish that are too big to promote their population growth. So usually, you only get to keep the average-sized crayfish.
Also, many other anglers are trapping crayfish in the lake or the river, and it is hard to tell one trap from the other. So, to counter this problem, it is required for each trapper to tag their traps to avoid confusion with others. The tag should detail the owner's name as well as the contact details.
The traps required to catch crayfish are minnow traps having a bigger opening. Minnows are small types of fish that grow 2 to 3 inches in length. Trapping minnows are very common as they are live bait for fishing bigger fishes. If your only available option is a minnow trap, you can cut or make the opening more significant for the crayfish to fit. The web design can either be a funnel with a small space or a box with a unique door that shuts every time a fish or crustacean gets in. Some advantages of using a minnow trap to trap crayfish would be: the web is inexpensive, easy to modify or alter, portable, and easy to sort out any tangles.
Among other traps that you can consider if you don't want to opt for, the basic minnow trap includes box traps, collapsible mesh basket traps, umbrella nets, and many others. These advanced traps offer a variety of features and setups that would make catching crayfish and other crustaceans such as crabs or lobsters much easier and faster. Of course, the only downside of these advanced traps is that they're a bit pricier than the minnow trap.
Baits for crayfish
Anglers can use almost all kinds of baits to catch crayfish. However, a particular type of bait is very effective and inexpensive for crayfish catching – and that would be an oily fish. Varieties of oily fishes include salmon, bass, walleye, pike catfish, trout, and many other easy-to-find fishes in the market. One inexpensive oily fish that most crayfish catchers use is tilapia which is usually easy to find on any fish market. Many use fillet parts of the fish; however, the rough cuts can also be used as baits. If you cannot come up with fish meats as bait, you can also opt for any meat leftovers – such as pork bones or fat, chicken skin, fat, feet, neck, and other parts. Crayfishes aren't that picky when it comes to food.
There is no need to fill your trap with bait, and all you need is the bait that is as big as your hand. If you're using tilapia as bait, you can use the whole fish as bait for a trap. The main thing to think about when considering the amount of appeal to put in a surprise is that it should be fragrant enough to attract the crayfish. Bigger cages or traps would call for more significant amounts of bait. To secure the appeal in the center of the cell or web, you can use a zip tie or a cable to wrap it in the middle of the cage. By tying the bait at the center of the cell or trap, the crayfish will have no other means to reach the trick but to find through the entrance.
Setting the trap
After preparing your trap along with the bait, where exactly is the best place to set your trap? While many people are confused and are wary about the right places to put the web, there aren't many things to consider when it comes to the right place. While you can drop the trap on any part of the river or lake, you can try setting it up in places to test where the crayfish gathers. An excellent place to start is on the rocky bottom of a lake or river. Let it sit for at least an hour or overnight. The bigger your bait, the longer time can have to set your trap. The excellent time to put the web is during the morning when the tide is low or whenever there is not much movement in the water.
You can also try laying the trap on weed beds found on docks, bridges, and other structures. Crayfish loves to linger around these structures and columns for food.
As you lay your traps, make sure to tag them. The last thing you'd want to happen is for someone else to grab your web filled with catch simply because they mistook it as their own – due to the absence of a tag. In addition, the title will help identify which cage or trap is yours and others.
Cleaning your catch
As soon as you catch crayfish and take them out of the water, it would help if you didn't let them die. Dead crayfish significantly affect the taste when cooked – you will always want your crayfish alive and kicking as you pour the fish in a boiling pot. To ensure that they remain active and fresh for at least a day or two, you can immediately put them on an icebox or more relaxed. Replacing the water would also ensure that your crayfish would live long enough.
Preferably, you'd want to keep your crayfish soaked for at least 24 hours in the cooler or icebox for them to expel contaminants as well as any sour flavors such as mud or dirt. It is the reason why an occasional change of water is essential.
Cooking your catch
There are many ways on how you can serve crayfish. The forms you can cook include steaming, boiling, blanching, pan-frying, grilling, or having it stir-fried with other ingredients in a wok. It depends on your taste preference. If you want it to be a bit burned with the taste of charcoal and barbecue, then grilled is a way to go. However, if you're going to taste the fresh flavor of the crayfish, then you can try blanching it or steaming it.
An excellent way to maintain the fresh taste of the crayfish would be to use salty water or seawater. It ensures that the flavor of the meat is still intact and to have a fragrant sea-like aroma. You can also add a bit of wine or vinegar, or lemon to counter the salty taste of the water. It gives the crayfish meat a sour and salty taste which is also sweet.
Any residue or liquid left out of boiling or steaming the crayfish can be used as sauce or stock to make soup and other recipes.
If you're trying to blanch or steam your crayfish and don't want it to be too cooked, you can immediately drop the meat over a bowl of ice or cold water to stop the cooking process. Just remember not to soak it in the ice bowl for too long, or you'll end up with a rubbery texture-out of the meat.
Now that you have a good idea of how to catch crayfish on your own, you can proceed with planning out the whole process. In your plan, make sure to consider the amount or volume of crayfish that you are looking to catch. Depending on the amount, you'll need the respective trap or cage, as well as the excellent book of bait. The traditional way of eating crawfish is the pull out the head and sip its juice, then peel off the exoskeleton or soft shell out of the tail and munches on the meat. Also, eating crayfish is best when you share it with others. Thus, it is a perfect food for parties, get-togethers, and camping or outdoor adventures.