Catch and Eat Crayfish to Help the Environment
You can help the environment, have lots of fun and harvest some great eating for the dinner table all in one package - go harvest crayfish in Arizona's high country lakes, streams and rivers.
Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists say that the spread of these non-native crustaceans is a serious threat to many Arizona fisheries - especially trout waters in the high country.
Crayfish, like many other introduced species of non-native animals and plants, can fill an important biological niche in one location, yet become a nuisance, threat or ecological disaster in other habitats such as Arizona.
"We need the public's help in preventing the spread of these biological time bombs," says Fisheries Branch Chief Larry Riley.
It is illegal to transport live crayfish from one location to another. However, Game and Fish officials are also asking the public to help the environment by harvesting and eating these delectable crustaceans.
Nongame Branch Chief Terry Johnson says the problem is not limited to trout waters. "Crayfish have been associated with population declines in native frogs in Arizona and are likely contributing to other problems as well."
A biological study funded by the department's Heritage Fund examined the effects of crayfish on native aquatic species in two streams: one in the White Mountains and the other a high desert stream near Sunflower. The study was solicited by Game and Fish officials because of concerns about crayfish impacts.
Philip J. Fernandez, Ph.D., of Grand Canyon University conducted the study and documented how introduced crayfish consume aquatic vegetation, insects and insect larvae, snails, tadpoles, fish, frogs, small snakes, baby turtles and each other. He concluded that within a few seasons, crayfish transform clear, biologically productive streams into muddy streams with little vegetation or animal life other than tremendous numbers of crayfish.
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Cooking Crayfish is as Simple as Boiling Water
If you can boil water, you can cook crayfish to perfection.
The trick is to bring the water to a boil, take it off the heat (or out of the microwave), and then add the crayfish. Don't put the crayfish into the water and then bring it to a boil; the crayfish will be tough.
Many people like to use a packet of seasonings called "crab boil" in the water. Even without seasoning, crayfish are terrific.
"Personally, I like cooking up a pot of corn on the cob in camp, then using that hot boiling water to cook the crayfish - it only takes a few minutes," says Public Information Officer Rory Aikens
Or, it takes about as long as melting a stick of butter in a small sauce pan for the crayfish and corn. "I also like adding a little fresh garlic," Aikens says adding that, "If you happen to catch some trout, you can have a camp meal fit to make any gourmand (or at least any Cajun) envious."
Here's another tip from Aikens for at home or in the camp - open your cookbook and look up recipes for crab or lobster, then substitute "crayfish" and you will have plenty of crayfish recipes to use. Life and crayfish eating are simple.
Jeff "Jesse" James - Owner of Jesse's Hunting & Outdoors
You can always tell who's in 2nd place by who's whining and crying the most. - Old hockey coach.
Dum spiramus tuebimur
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