Catching Crayfish

The invading enemy: a signal crayfish

History

Just over 25 years ago, Signal Crayfish were first brought to the UK as part of the restaurant trade. Since then they have found their way into the wild and have been wreaking havoc ever since. Their introduction has almost led to the near extinction of our native white-clawed variety.  It’s easy to see why; signal crayfish are bigger, stronger, are more aggressive, will eat a wide variety of food and reproduce faster and in greater numbers. On top of all this they carry a disease which, while harmless to humans, is fatal to our native crayfish. Beyond affecting just our own crayfish, they feast on fish eggs and burrow into riverbanks leading to collapses.

Though fishing them has no substantial effect on combating their affects, gaining the appropriate permits to fish them is easy and free. Most importantly; they are absolutely delicious. We have produced a simplified guide below to the baits and traps that will produce good results.

Legality

Before setting off to fish for crayfish or even contemplating doing so, you’ll need to call the Environment Agency in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or SEPA in Scotland, as well as get permission from the land owner of the area you plan to fish in. They authorise permits for fishing crayfish and send out tags to make sure traps are legal. In some areas though they may not issue a permit where it would endanger the already crippled native white-clawed variety. The white-clawed crayfish must be not be caught by any traps. Once authorised by the EA, you’re ready to start to plan for some fishing.

Selective Palate

Bait for crayfish is very important; signal crayfish can be notoriously picky with their food. The ideal bait for crayfish is derived from fish found in the same location as where you are fishing for crayfish. Other baits deriving from fish, especially strong smelling oily fish, also works well as does some poultry and even bacon. Any bait must be fresh; as crayfish are attracted to the trap by the smell, off or rotten bait may actually put them off.  Remember: the more bait, the more potential for crayfish caught. If you plan to leave the trap overnight, more bait will also be needed to keep the trap producing results.

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The Right Trap for the Job

Solway Feeders supplies a very effective trap which is completely compliant with the Environment Agency’s specifications for a crayfish trap. Many who fish for crayfish agree that tubular traps like the Solway Feeders crayfish trap are superior to their box and beehive counterparts. It’s important to make sure your trap is compliant, non-compliant traps have the capacity for trapping and drowning otters and other water-borne mammals. It’s also important to disinfect a trap after use as this will stop you potentially spreading the crayfish bound plague to other areas.

Once you have your permit, bait, Solway Feeders Crayfish trap and a spot to fish; you’ll soon be enjoying this great delicacy which has been wildly popular in the States and Scandinavia for many years.