Table Rock Crawdads

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Published on: May. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 17, 2010

to my surprise, I caught more than a dozen that were two or three times larger than any I had seen. They were huge!”

Wayne said he soon learned how to clean and cook them and has been crayfishing ever since. “My family and friends have had a lot of fun catching and eating the crawdads,” he said.

Most of the crawdads are taken from under boat docks on Table Rock. However, that appears to be just a matter of convenience. The big crayfi sh are found almost everywhere in the big reservoir.

There is no season for catching the crayfish. Anglers legally can take them year around, but the most productive months are May, June and July. September and October are also good for crayfishing.

Crawdads can be trapped from the wild, but not sold. The daily limit is 150. A Missouri fishing permit is required.

The most productive way to catch crayfish is with a baited wire-mesh trap. Regulations specify that the opening or entrance to the trap cannot be more than 1.5 by 18 inches and the owner's name and address must be attached.

The crayfish is a scavenger and will eat almost anything. Many people bait their traps with canned dog food (open just one end of the can) or dead, non-game fish. Meaty chicken and turkey bones, such as the backs and necks, also attract crayfish.


Crayfish are primarily nocturnal. They spend daylight hours in holes or under rocks.

Male crayfish mate with females in late fall and winter, and the eggs develop inside the female. In May and June, she lays the eggs and gathers them under her tail. She holds them in place with a glue-like substance she produces from glands under her tail.

Later, the young attach themselves to small tabs, called swimmerets, under the mother's tail. The young stay on the tail for a couple weeks before becoming free-swimming larvae. The females with eggs or young remain close to cover.

Crayfish periodically outgrow their shells and shed them. Before their new shell hardens, they are extremely vulnerable to predation and usually hide themselves. It takes about a day for the new shell to harden.

Although the longpincered crayfish of Table Rock is one of the state's best-known and most-used species, crayfish densities in some Ozark streams are among the highest in the world, said Conservation Department resource scientist Bob DiStefano. Many animals, including our sport fishes, feed on

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