Build a Better Crawfish Trap…
And the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door!
By Patrick Bonin
There are sand traps, mousetraps, steel traps, speed traps and trap doors… even Venus Flytraps!
But at Frugé Aquafarms, one of the most important pieces of equipment we use is the simple crawfish trap. It’s how we physically remove the mudbugs from the 1,200-acres of rice fields on our farm in Branch, La. and get them to our wholesale dock.
But to do the job right, it takes a lot of ‘em: we use about 11,000 traps in our farming operation! And during the peak of the season right now, each and every one of them is baited and emptied just about every single day!
At Frugé, we use a locally made pyramid trap, which has a triangular base that sits on the pond bottom. (An attached stake keeps the trap upright.) Three funnels located about 4-5 inches from the bottom of the trap are where the crawfish enter to eat the bait. Once the crawfish get in, it’s very difficult for them to hang on to the mesh and climb upside down to escape.
“Some people refer to a trap as a restaurant, and you’re only catching the ones that are still at the table,” said Mark Frugé, co-owner of Frugé Aquafarms. “There is probably a small percentage that find their way out. The smaller ones will eat and leave and pass through the wire. The ones that are marketable size stay in the trap because of the diameter of the mesh.”
Earlier in the season when the water temperatures are cool, cut fish like pogies, mackerel or shad are used to entice the mudbugs inside. Later, when water temps reach 70 degrees and above, we use an artificial bait pellet inside the traps.
“We use about a quarter-pound of bait per trap per day,” Frugé said. “During peak production times, we like to see a pound of crawfish per day inside each trap.”
At Frugé Aquafarms, we put out about 10 traps per surface acre. Traps are spaced about 50-feet apart in rows that are about 100-feet apart throughout the ponds. Crawfish are not territorial, so they move freely throughout the ponds every day, which increases the likelihood they’ll encounter a trap.
“The little crawfish get to the trap first and start feeding,” Frugé explained. “When the big ones come, they run the little ones off.”
Traps are worked each morning, then the crawfish are cleaned, graded and sacked at our wholesale dock on the farm that afternoon. To make sure we have enough mudbugs to keep everyone happy, that’s pretty much the process we stick to every day during crawfish season.
But what happens to the 11,000 or so traps when crawfish season ends in late June?
“Well, we used to clean them up and stockpile them in one spot on the farm,” Marks said with a laugh. “That just got to be too much. Now we spread them out in seven or eight locations. But don’t worry – they’ll be ready to go for next year.”