Crayfish traps

Posted by nigelorrmail on August 8, 2013 at 10:55 AM



   My partner, Nigel, remembered that whilst fixing a rudder on a narrow boat on the Grand Union canal, up to his neck in water he felt crayfish crawling on his feet. Ignoring my comment of ‘ugh’, he salivated on his vision of huge bowls of steaming crayfish such as the ones served up in Louisiana.   We have bought crayfish in France. They are sold live and make a weird scream-sounding noise when they are cooking.  He said he would cook them. We had stopped for a while after several months of cruising on our boat and this seemed the ideal time to pursue the crayfish thing, but how to catch them? Hopefully, via a minimum of effort i.e. throwing a lobster style pot over the side at night and hauling up a full pot at daybreak just like they do down in the bajous. 

    A farmer friend, Tim, said that crayfish traps were on sale in most fishing tackle shops in France and offered to get one for us.  However, having decided not to buy a new one costing between £30-£40 he spotted a similar trap in the back of a truck making it’s way to the local dechetterie (dump).  He followed in time to see the trap thrown into a bin and sheepishly climbed in to retrieve it.  We met him in the small market town of Louhans where we were transferring the trap to our car when a local busybody, a rotund Frenchman wearing a baseball cap (whatever happened to berets), accosted us.  He informed us that such traps were illegal and we’d face a heavy fine if caught by the water bailiff. The theory is that traps make it so easy stocks are depleted.  Having explained the penalties he then went on to say that he had a better one at home which was ours if we wanted it and he knew how to keep his trap shut.  We refused his offer politely but thought we’d avoid being spotted by lobbing our trap over the side of the boat under cover of darkness, at least until Nigel could make a legal sized trap.   

   We launched our trap baited with mergez  sausage as the prescribed rotten meat wasn’t available and toasted the launch with a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet.  Half an hour later we pulled the trap up just to check but all that was in it was the sausage. Five days later we had to release three baby catfish that hadn’t eaten the sausage.  We gave up and Nigel took the trap to the dechitterie where he met a French man who told him that such traps were illegal. “And bloody useless” he replied bitterly.  Oh well, there’s always next year.



Categories: Travel stories

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