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Despite their unsightly appearance, crawfish have long been served as the main course from the backwoods of Louisiana to New Orleans' five-star restaurants. But what about crawfish in bass ponds?
We have recently recognized crawfish as a powerful pond management tool, capable of quickly boosting the growth and condition of largemouth bass. How many times have you caught a bass, looked in his mouth and seen orange pinchers sticking out of his throat? It happens all the time in rocky lakes and streams. Bass love crawfish!
Then again, largemouth bass are not exactly picky consumers. They will eat just about anything that doesn't eat them first. Aside from the obvious fact that bass love to eat crawfish, there are several things that make these crustaceans an excellent bass forage option. They are readily available, inexpensive, easy for bass to capture and they have a super high-protein content. Like tilapia, crawfish also make a terrific substitute in ponds too small to support threadfin shad.
We have been stocking crawfish in some of our more aggressively managed ponds for the past couple years. Since then, we have conducted electrofishing evaluations in many of those ponds and the results have been impressive. Bass that were previously in average condition have put on weight–in some cases, lots of weight.
Two words best describe the results of stocking crawfish: immediate and noticeable. Unlike other forage species we stock in ponds for bass, crawfish provide a direct benefit. (The goal when stocking most fish species is for the individuals we stock to reproduce; then the reproduction feeds the bass). With crawfish, the idea is reversed. The individuals we stock in a pond are intended to be consumed themselves. A secondary benefit is that some will likely survive and populate the pond with future generations of crawfish.
Stocking rates from 50 to 100 pounds per acre seem to produce the best results. In really large lakes, lower stocking rates may be necessary simply because of economics.
There is something else a pond owner will realize after adding crawfish. For a month or two after stocking them, you can hammer the bass on anything that resembles a crawfish. The bass get keyed into feeding on them and go crazy. Paul Bracknell, owner of Dream Lake in west Alabama, says he can guarantee his clients fast fishing after stocking crawfish. "It's like flipping a switch," Bracknell says. "The bass turn on and grab anything red or orange with a vengeance."
BAM! That's not the sound of Emeril Lagasse seasoning an entrée. That's a big bass slamming your crawfish-colored crank bait. Please call one of our offices and let us tempt your bass this spring, with a high protein Cajun boost.
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