Live Crayfish Tips for Smallmouth Bass- A Beginner’s Guide

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There are a many different methods to catch a crayfish, whether it is by hand or by setting a trap. The method we’ll cover is catching them by hand using a dip net. For most anglers this is going to be the most practical way to catch them. You can go and buy big traps and go through a lot of trouble of setting the traps out and hoping no one or nothing messes with them, or you can just spend around a half an hour to forty five minutes collecting your bait. Nets can be purchased anywhere from Wal-Mart to your local fishing shop. Do not purchase a big hulking net for catching crayfish, because it will get hung up on the rocks they hang out in. Go with a small bait type net for your pursuits.

This can be one of the easiest procedures for catching a crayfish, so however it can take a little (not much) time to master. Make sure you have a good set of polarized glasses to help eliminate glare from the water. This can make or break your crayfish hunting trip; I’ve learned this the hard way.

Water with current, a lot of rocks, and somewhere that they have an escape route are great areas to start in.

Start by slowly and I mean slowly flipping rocks over. Generally rocks with a flatter bottom seem to produce better. Keep in mind, a crayfish needs to be able to get underneath the rocks easily, so if you have a really hard time pulling one out of mud, you’re probably wasting your time in that spot. Basically you want to keep flipping until you start to locate crayfish. If you’re in the right area this shouldn’t take too long, because where you will find one, you will find many.

So you’ve flipped over a perfect rock nice and slowly, and underneath is a good sized bait cray. Carefully angle and position your dip net directly behind the crayfish. On the front end of crayfish are a long set of antennae used for smelling out prey, sensing their surroundings in a dark environment, and sensing predators that may be nearby. What you’re going to want to do is use your fingers or a stick to startle the crayfish into swimming backwards into the net.

Once you have landed one, the process is pretty easy to repeat. It can take around 10 minutes to an hour to catch a dozen or so crayfish. It all depends on how much bait you want and how much time you’re willing to spend. Generally when retreating, a crayfish will rocket backwards using their large tail. Other than when they are swimming, locomotion is a pretty slow process. Usually when they’re disturbed from their hiding places they will stick around for a few seconds to see what the commotion is or they’ll flare up their claws to protect their territory. If they feel threatened by something that is moving too fast, they are likely to flee.

Do everything slowly around your bait. **Read your state’s laws regarding using crayfish for bait. Do your water systems a favor by not catching crayfish from one water system to use in another. This is a no no.**


There is an unlimited variety of methods for fishing crayfish from the simple plain hook presentation to fishing them on slip bobbers. I’ve fished crayfish for many years now, and the one method I’ve seen that produces time and time again is using a Carolina rig. The Carolina rig is hands down my favorite way to present a crayfish, especially when fishing a hard bodied crayfish, because it allows the bass or catfish to swim with the cray for a while, chewing on it, before it feels the weight of your sinker. What this means for you as the angler is the bait is presented in a way where it feels no resistance and is not inclined to drop your bait.
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