No matter who or what you are, crawfish are delicious.
From New York to Louisiana, and from Texas to Missouri, the venerable crayfish or crawfish (depending on which of those states you're from) has a place in the fisherman's heart. As a bait, they often produce better results than anything else. This is especially true during their molt phase, which makes them a particularly vulnerable target.
These little freshwater crustaceans that look like miniature lobsters have many predators who'll eat them, which is why we love to use them for live bait. Live crawfish are a staple of bait shops everywhere, as they work great for catching game fish.
However, game fish aren't the only critters out there that love them for a snack.
While this list could be longer, these are the crawfish's 10 biggest fans:
This is fairly common knowledge, and yet I have to admit I didn't really know this until last summer when I actually saw it with my own eyes!
The mink's diet includes fish, frogs, snakes, lizards, large insects and small rodents, but crawfish are quite possibly their favorite thing to eat.
If you've ever had the patience to watch a heron hunt, you probably understand how unbelievably composed they are. These opportunists will catch crawfish by simply waiting them out.
Otters can swim up to 9 mph, so crawfish don't stand a chance. Otters are comical at times to humans, but make no mistake: they're among the best hunters out there crawfish are always on the menu.
When I was about 12 years old, we would go down to the creek at the end of the street and drag a seine net through the weeds and rock crevices for crawfish. Inevitably, we would come up with some monsters that we'd end up feeding to our friends "pet" raccoon. The first time I ever saw it crunch down a big crawfish, I knew how much raccoons liked them.
There are countless baits that imitate crawfish for a reason. Trout actively pursue whatever their home range allows, and when the time is right, crawfish are one of the best bait you can use to catch them.
Channel cats in particular will fill their bellies on crawfish, but virtually any catfish will slurp them down. And, perhaps the best part is catfish don't mind if their food is dead or alive.
3. Largemouth Bass
Many of you are probably wondering how the most popular species of bass isn't the top crawfish-eater. However, the fact remains that the jig-and-pig, crankbaits and a healthy chunk of all plastic artificials were meant to mimic the live crawfish.
2. Smallmouth Bass
Hang on before you scroll down to see what could possibly be more voracious at eating the crawfish than the bronzeback. There are countless videos and articles surrounding the top forage for one of our favorite game fish. But as someone who's had a successful summer of fishing for them, I'll can tell you every single one of them I've caught this season was full of them.
These elongated refugees from the Jurassic Period are some of the most aggressive fish you can catch; the first one I ever caught was on a Jitterbug! I watched my grandfather cut one open in Canada when I was a kid and I never saw so many half-inch-long crawfish in my life.
The crawfish boil is a summertime tradition in any region where people regularly trap them. Sometimes we fill the traps with chicken parts and other times even cat food, but we always catch enough to fill our bellies.
Honorable mentions include skunks, turtles, foxes, bigger crawfish, rock bass, owls, snakes and hellbenders. The first time I ever caught a striped bass was on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tennessee. Can you guess what I used?
OK, put your thinking caps on and try to come up with a few more things that should be on this list!
Cover photo via YouTube