Tips On How To Keep Crawfish Alive Overnight (And More You Need To Know!)
Crawfish are edible, freshwater crustaceans that look a lot like smaller lobsters. They are valued for their sweet, delicious flesh and can be found all over the world but are most famous as the official state crustacean of Louisiana.
Crawfish are also one of the best live fishing baits from late spring to the end of summer. Many anglers find it convenient to keep some on hand for sudden unplanned fishing trips to your background lake or any local waters.
What makes them a favorite live bait is that they are easy to acquire, widely available, easy to store, and quite mobile when alive which effectively attracts fish targets.Therefore, crawfish work best as baits when they are alive and fresh.
Luckily for you, keeping them alive is easy and requires minimal effort, as long as you know the right method and tools. Read on for instructions and tips on how to keep crawfish alive overnight!
What you will need for keeping crawfish alive overnightTo start off, there are several things that you should grab and prepare to store and take care of crawfish.
Crawfish are very easy to store. You do not even need a large fish tank or a filtration system. Actually, you can just use a large rectangular plastic container that comes with a lid or a cooler.Just make sure to leave a gap between the lid or drill holes in it for ventilation and to allow the critters to breathe.
You can use a drill with a 1.4 inch bit for the lid.You can also use a flow-through bait bucket which is easier to handle. Remove the interior bucket from the exterior bucket to allow the air to flow through.
You also need some water enough to fill your container at least about three-quarters of the way. This will keep the crawfish cool, but not entirely submerged. You can use a self-draining container or drill a small hole near the bottom for drainage.
This way, you don’t have to worry and check on the container too frequently. The excess water from the melted ice will automatically drain out.
Food For The Crawfish
Crawfishes are not picky eaters and will devour just about anything. You won’t even need to buy an expensive special feed. The usual food that experienced fishers feed them is lettuce.Lettuce is ideal because they do not contaminate the water in the way that hotdogs or other raw meat trimmings do.
You don’t need much either. Just leave a few large leaves inside the container.For longer periods of storage, replenish this supply once every week. The day after, you can then clean your container and replace the water.
Wet Newspaper Or Grass
Crawfish can stay alive for longer periods of time if you store them in a container lined and/or wrapped in wet newspapers or some grass. You can also alternate layers of crawfish with layers of wet newspaper.
Especially when kept in a cooler with some ice, crawfish should hold up throughout the day or night this way.
Crawfish are also known as mudbugs because they are most commonly found underneath the mud of freshwater bayous. Because of this, their digestive tracts are filled with mud, grass, and other impurities.
Therefore, most fishermen who intend to use them as bait or eat them boiled prefer to clean or purge them with sea salt and water. This makes them more palatable and appealing. Find out more about purging crawfish in the next section.
Step By Step Instructions On How To Keep Crawfish Alive Overnight
Here are the steps on how to keep crawfish alive overnight. This process of taking care and storing live crawfish can keep them alive through the night or up to a few days or even weeks.
Step 1. Ensuring That You Have The Right Container.
Choose a tray, cooler, bucket, or plastic container to store your crawfish inside at home or in your garage. Pick one that is the right size to fit all your crawfish but also large enough to leave some space on top.
Make sure that the container you have is large enough to provide some room for thoroughly cleaning your crawfish. It should also be slippery or tall enough to prevent any of the crawfish from somehow crawling out.
Crawfish will also stay alive fairly long even when kept in the sack where they come in, as long as they have free access to air and are not completely submerged in water.
Step 2. Lining The Tray Or Container
Line the tray or container using wet or moist paper towels, newspapers, pieces of fabric or cloth. Also, put some gel packs or ice at the bottom. This will help maintain the low temperature longer and keep your crawfish alive for at least a few days.
You can also wrap the crawfish individually with second layers of moist paper towels or fabric before storing them with ice or inside the refrigerator. This will keep them hydrated and alive for up to five days.
Or, you can also keep the crawfish in their original sack covered with moist or wet cloth. If you are using a tub or large container, you can make a platform such as a wire rack over the gel packs or ice to separate the crawfish from them and keep them moist without drowning them.
Step 3. Preparing And Cleaning The Crawfish For Purging
If you want to store crawfish alive, you have to make sure to clean them first. Start by briefly running down some water on them through a hose to remove any dirt or debris from the outside.
Then, you can proceed to store them in a container with some ice.You can keep crawfish alive for a few days when kept at temperatures 36ºF to 46ºF. Just make sure to drain them as necessary to avoid submerging them in water.
Then, remove the ice and allow the crawfish to go back to room temperature, after which you can begin purging them.Be sure to remove the ice and let the crawfish return to room temperature before purging.
Step 4. Purging Your Crawfish
You can purge your crawfish in two ways: with and without salt.
- Purging with salt
The intention of salting is not to season, but to clean the crawfish by forcing them to vomit out mud and wastes from their digestive tracts. However, because the crawfish will go wild and squirmy with salt, this step is optional.
Salt also increases the risk of killing them.To purge with salt, pour a liberal amount of regular table salt or sea salt in your crawfish inside a large tub or container. Then, using a large spatula or any instrument, stir the crawfish around to distribute the salt evenly.
Next, pour water over the crawfish until they are submerged. This removes grime and minimizes the fishy odor and taste of the crawfish. Stir around gently for around 3 minutes to wash off mud from the gills and shells.
Try to pour out the saltwater completely while keeping the crawfish in the tub. Refill the tub with fresh, clean water and stir again. Remove this water and rinse one more time.
You will notice the water to be less grimy. You can stop purging once you are satisfied with how clean the water is.
- Purging Without Salt
If you choose not to use salt, simply fill the tub with water, submerging the crawfish for about ten to fifteen minutes. This helps loosen the grime and dirt.Pour out the dirty water and refill again with fresh water.
Wait for another five to fifteen minutes before draining and refilling again. Do this several times until you deem the water to be reasonably clean. Drain again before storing your crawfish.
Here’s a short video on how to do it:
Step 5. Keeping The Container Clean
During purging, you may notice some dead crawfish that will float on the water. There could also be molted off shells. Remove both of these as soon as possible because both can pollute the water fast.
This can affect and kill the other alive crawfish, leaving you with no bait. Also, do not feed your crawfish with raw meat like hamburger meat or hotdogs, which can have the same effect.
Remove uneaten food and replace the water or ice at least once a day to prevent contamination.To remove water, you can simply turn over the bucket or container and allow the water to drain through a gap or the holes drilled in the lid.
Step 6. Store It.
Finally, keep the crawfish cool and moist. Protect them from too much sunlight or the wind. Keep your container in a dark and cool place like the garage or basement.
Change or replace the gel packs or ice regularly and spray or sprinkle some water every few hours or so.You can also check out this video on Youtube about catching, purging, and how to keep crawfish alive overnight or until you are ready to use them
That’s it! Easy, right? These simple steps, tips, and tricks on how to keep crawfish alive overnight or longer allow you to save money, time, and effort in the long run.
This is also very convenient for people who like to catch fish like bass with crawfish but are tired of going to a bait shop before every fishing trip.If you live far from a bait shop and happen to buy crawfish too early beforehand, this simple method will avoid wasting good bait or food.
If you catch crawfish by yourself, this is also a good way to preserve large batches of crawfish catch for both baiting and consumption while also keeping them fresh, alive, and of the maximum possible quality.