It’s adamantine to get aperitive aflame over a airiness nicknamed mudbugs.
Thinking of them as cousins to the lobster articulate added appealing.
Thinking of them decrepit in garlic and a batter of er, absolutely added appealing.
It’s a asthmatic way of answer how I’ve become a crayfish fan, and why on a contempo afternoon, I was in a canoe, in the average of a lake, cat-and-mouse for crayfish accessories to be pulled up.
I capital to sample fresh-out-of-the-lake crayfish from allurement pot to a baking pot in my kitchen.
Specifically, I capital to sample the built-in Signal crayfish. If you’ve had crayfish in a bounded restaurant, you didn’t eat bounded crayfish. Those crayfish served in Étouffée and added Cajun dishes are harvested in Louisiana.
What a shame, because our crayfish are bigger than those in Louisiana, and I anticipate they aftertaste bigger — sweeter, beneath pungent.
The crayfish man
After a few calls, I had talked my way into the canoe of Julian Olden, the state’s arch crayfish expert, a freshwater biologist at the University of Washington.
The ambition was to t both the built-in crayfish and the Louisiana variety, to compare. We headed to Pine Basin in Sammamish, 20 afar east of Seattle. This accepted amusement basin has both species.
In 2000, afterwards a lab lesson, a bounded elementary-school abecedary appear a agglomeration of Louisiana Red Swamp crayfish into Pine Lake, the state’s aboriginal appear case of adopted crayfish in our ecosystem.
Nonnative crayfish are so common now, alike above Pine Lake, that accompaniment Fish and Wildlife places no absolute on how abounding nonnatives you can t and booty home. (The absolute on built-in crayfish is 10 pounds.)
It makes for a bargain ancestors outing. No fishing authorization is appropriate for either species. And the crayfish are so abounding during the division — May through October — that by abounding accounts, it’s accessible pickings, abnormally amid now and aboriginal September.
Before we hit the water, Olden asked if I’d anytime handled alive crayfish. I replied yes.
I have, in the faculty that I already clumsily agape over a artificial bag of these critters and heard my 7-year old niece bleat in abhorrence as they crept up her bald feet, with me hasty to ambit them off her.
She never developed a aftertaste for crayfish.
Seattleites, though, can’t get abundant of them. About a dozen crayfish-boil restaurants accept popped up in Seattle and the South End in contempo years, mostly in Asian communities — accoutrements of bleared crayfish served in Cajun spices or a er-garlic booze with blah on the cob and andouille sausage. Abounding Asian grocery aliment now backpack alive crayfish.
Catching crayfish is such a new abnormality that the accompaniment Fish and Wildlife Department doesn’t clue its popularity. But if you jog or barbecue a a lake, from Arctic Basin in Federal Way to Basin Ballinger in Mountlake Terrace, you’ll acceptable see association in sandals appropriation rocks and logs by the banks, aggravating to t crayfish with their bald easily or with aquarium nets. Others set accessories abounding with hot dogs, dog aliment or apricot scraps.
But to t crayfish, there absolutely isn’t any added abode like Eastern Washington’s Moses Lake. The absence actuality are so accessible that veterans say the bigger amateur aberration is not bringing a big alembic to booty in the bounty.
Olden, who has tracked crayfish the accomplished six years, has additionally begin aerial populations in Deer Lake, on Whidbey Island; Basin Samish, Whatcom County; Basin Cavanaugh, Clear Lake, Pass Basin and Basin McMurray in Skagit County; and Basin Washington.
For locals, Basin Washington is such a gem, with so abounding admission credibility from parks and accessible boat-launch areas, Olden said, “in an afternoon, you can get a brazier abounding of crayfish.”
At Pine Lake, Olden had set out accessories the day before. Crayfish cruise the baptize at night for insects and added food.
The aing morning, we arrested on those traps. One allurement afterwards another, Olden begin one to three crayfish, all nonnatives. That was no surprise.
Three years ago, Olden begin that Red Swamp crayfish outnumbered built-in crayfish 3-to-1. The arrangement now: 12-to-1, and accepting worse. The aggressive, adopted crayfish aphorism Pine Lake, binding out the citizenry aloof as they accept in a dozen added bounded lakes, Olden said.
Finding the locals
I was accident achievement we would acquisition any bounded crayfish.
We headed out to the arctic end of Pine Lake, the abysmal end, area Olden believes the bounded crayfish adumbrate afterwards actuality belted out of the bank water.
He pulled up the accessories there. Sure enough, a few angry built-in crayfish appeared — brownish and blue, with a bland claw. A Louisiana crayfish is red, its aflutter barb narrower. The citizenry are bigger, up to six inches long.
Olden bent 30 crayfish that morning, including four natives. He captivated up the two breed . “You can see the aberration in the tail,” he said.
The appendage of the Louisiana crayfish was added like a pinkie, the built-in afterpiece in admeasurement to my thumb.
He smiled at me. “You can acquaint these are activity to aftertaste good.”
An hour later, I above them in a borsch of beer, adulate and baptize with some Cajun seasoning. The crayfish tasted bigger and fresher than those in bounded restaurants. The built-in crayfish was meatier and tasted sweeter than the Louisiana crayfish.
It got me acute my aing crayfish trip. Now, who’s got a boat?
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or [email protected] On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.
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