Whitesburg KY

Fishing with crawdads for bait

Let’s all go down to the river and leave our troubles behind. Let’s all go down to the river and catch crawdads by the bucket.

You have never had the thrill of a lifetime if you haven’t felt under a rock and thought you had a nice soft crawdad in your grasp only to discover upon raising the rock out of the water using both hands that your soft crawdad was a nice, soft water snake eight to 10 inches long.

For most people a snake of that size might as well been three feet long and counting. It sure happened to me many times as a youngster. But it didn’t take me all day to let it go either. I haven’t met a snake that I am scared of but I sure do hate that part of surprise.

A water snake is harmless to humans like some others native to these hills. We really only have two in this area to fear, the rattlesnake and the plentiful copperhead. The same goes for spiders such as the black widow and the brown recluse or fiddler.

Now back to catching crawdads. We youngsters as well as adults treasured a bucket of bait with a good number of soft crawdads or peelers. The peelers were the ones that were ready to shed but hadn’t done so yet, so we finished helping them shed before using them for bait. Those baits were deadly for catching bass, red eyes, and catfish.

Our fishing gear usually consisted of a long, onepiece cane pole with #8 sewing thread and a #4 hook. I wouldn’t dare try to use this type of fishing line today unless it was carpet or upholstery thread.

We would situate ourselves at the upper end of a hole or water where the channel runs into the hole. We would have a line about four feet longer than the cane pole so as to be able to just put it where we wanted it using the pole and not having to just throw it out by hand.

We would put on a crawdad and gently put it where we wanted it without having to use a sinker and let it slowly drift down into the hole of water. If there was a hungry fish in there, it would get it before it went very far and then the fight was on. But we had to be real careful and patient letting the pole wear the fish down till we could drag it up onto the bank.

During nesting time we would hunt their nesting site and then drop a juicy tidbit into the nest. It was easy to catch sunfish in this manner but not bass because they were quite a bit smarter. I have had them hold the bait with their lips and then back up with it till it was out of the nest and simply drop it. It was as if they knew I couldn’t hook them while they were going backward, as if the fish was looking directly at me knowing I was a danger to it.

The ugly old horny head was some good eating, too, but you hardly ever see one anymore. Another one we don’t see too often is the yellow belly catfish and the river used to be full of them. You don’t see many sunfish either but a lot of bluegills. They are all a treat on the dinner table.

Well, that’s all for now from the funny farm.

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