Crayfish Traps / Crawfish Traps – How to Catch’em – Trapper Arne

Video how to use a crawfish trap


Many books have been written about how to catch crayfish. On this web page, though, I will limit myself to the essentials of crayfish catching. I summarize crayfish catching into five groups:


Finally a trap experience from Wheatfields Lake on the Navajo reservation. One afternoon my son Peter and I sat fishing for trout from the shore. Suddenly I noticed a large crayfish slowly crawling up toward us. Soon I saw another one. And then even more here and there. To my delight I realized that there were crayfish in the lake, and large ones too.


But what was I to do? I had nothing to catch crayfish with. I am not an engineer, but surely deep down in my genes flow some of my father’s DNA. He was an engineer and also an avid crayfish catcher back home. Looking around for what I might find to catch some crayfish, I cast a long look on my fish basket made out of collapsible metal mesh. The top end had a spring loaded lid to keep the catch in. But it could be propped open, couldn’t it? Of course it could, and with a just long enough stick I could make the lid stay open. And then, bait. We happened to have a few newly caught trout, so I quickly severed a tail and a head and stuck it under the spring in the lid. Another long stick held the rest of the fish basket open all the way to the bottom. A long string already was attached to the handle of the fish basket. Voila! There I had my first crayfish trap.

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I threw out this unlikely contraption into the water as far as the string would reach. And then Peter and I just sat there and waited while we still tended to our trout fishing poles.

While preparing this makeshift crayfish trap I noticed that some of the Indians who were also fishing nearby watched us with gleeful interest. They apparently realized I was trying to catch some crayfish. I could read in their faces that they could see no sense in our activities.

After a while, maybe an hour or two, we decided to pull up our trap for the first time. And by golly, we had caught plenty of crayfish in it. We were delighted, especially I who had made the trap and who had the Swedish crayfishing genes in me. But all the Indians around us were laughing and pointing at those silly whities who were dumb enough to try to catch crayfish. To Indians crayfish is something you just don’t eat.

Cooking crayfish at camp

Back at camp I set up the camping stove for cooking my catch. On the ground, live crayfish. In the pot on top, cooking crayfish. In pot below, cooked crayfish ready to eat. (Click picture to enlarge)

Well, dumb or not, when evening arrived, I had enough crayfish for a big meal of crayfish. And I was privileged to eat them all myself as neither my wife, who is allergic to crustaceans, nor our children would eat any.

I was in heaven.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>