How To Keep Crawfish Alive – Fast and Easy Steps

Crawfish are favourite fishing baits because of their efficiency in baiting big fish. They are readily accessible and can be found in every fresh body of water. It’s also relatively easy to store and keep crawfish alive.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to keep crawfish alive for fishing. Some overdo it and spend more than is necessary. What’s important here is for you to know the right steps in keeping them stored and alive for your planned fishing activity.

You don’t need to put that much effort and time to keep the bait alive. All you need to do is follow the tips in this post, and you should be able to use live crawfish for fishing.


Keeping Crawfish Alive

1. Keeping Crawfish Alive at Home – What You Need

​1.1 Putting Just Enough Water

​You only need to fill a container with enough water (at least three-quarters of the way) to keep the crayfish cool. There is no need for you to submerge the poor thing completely. Drill holes through the container lid with a 1.4 inch bit.

​1.2 Diverse Diet

You don’t need to buy expensive food for the crawfish because it will eat almost anything. Experienced fishers use lettuce since they don’t contaminate the water as much as raw meat trimmings such as hot dogs.

You can also drop a few big leaves inside the container once a week, and the crawfish will be just fine. You can simultaneously change the water a day after every feeding session by flipping the container over and allowing water to flow down the holes inside the lid.

Here’s more information on crawfish diet – What Crawfish Eat

1.3 Using Coolers and Wet News Papers

Crawfish are also kept alive for prolonged periods of time once you store them inside a cooler wrapped in wet newspapers. Alternate the layers of wet newspapers with the layers of crawfish and store them inside a cooler.

1.4 Deal with Molting

If crawfish molts are found inside the container, get rid of the molted shells as soon as you can. You must also get rid of any dead crawfish the soonest. Dead crayfish and molted shells can pollute the water fast and affect the other crawfish inside the container.

1.5 Flow-through bait buckets.

These buckets work well and are easier to handle. Get the inner bucket from the exterior bucket to enable air to flow through. Put some grass or wet paper inside the bucket, and even add some ice for them to hold up well during the day.

SEE ALSO : How to Keep Night Crawlers Alive ?

2. How to Keep Crawfish Alive for Fishing – The Steps

  • Step 1. Choose a tray where you can store crawfish at home. Wet a paper towel or cloth and set it at the base of the tray.
  • Step 2. Put your crawfish on damp paper towel or clothing. Wrap the crawfish with a secondary layer of paper towels or moist cloth and put it in the refrigerator for at least five days. Don’t go beyond five days because they will likely die by that time.
  • Step 3. Once you’re already in the fishing area, put the crawfish inside a screened container so that they won’t escape. Submerge the crawfish into the water to keep them alive throughout the fishing activity.
  • Step 4. Supply the crawfish with bits of hamburger meat if you’re going to stay inside the camp for several days to keep them alive. Remove any dead crawfish or uneaten food in the next day to prevent contamination.

Check out this video to get a closer look at how to keep crawfish alive:

Additional Tips

Here are additional tips for keeping crawfish alive and using them as bait for fishing:

  • In using crawfish as bait, hook its tail and let it swim freely in the water. You will have a better chance of catching fish when the bait is mobile because there are fishes like catfish, trout, or bass that love crawfish and would deliberately take the bait and become your next catch.
  • Put crawfish that requires prolonged storage inside the refrigerator. Freezing only the tails will enable you to store them in a very tight space. Freeze them fast and while still fresh. Once thawed, the meat will remain firm and attach well to the hook.
  • You can fish small crayfish whole. All you need to do is hook them at the last part of the body from the tail area. Some people hook the crayfish within the ridge at the back of the head after removing the claws. Both methods seem to work just fine.
  • There are a lot of anglers who prefer fishing the tails. They pinch off the first segment of the tail and peel off the shell. Impaling the meat over a small hook to make it look soft and keep it on the hook. Boiling would firm up the meat. It would be best to boil the tail first.
  • Rigs used for using crayfish as bait may vary in proportion to the water conditions and type of species. Bottom-walking and split shot rigs are used on hard bottom bodies of water. Anglers tend to use jigs on soft bottoms. Both methods would require slow movement in fish off the bait.
  • Panfish anglers may also use slip bobbers in fishing the crayfish for it to dangle on top of rocks or at the bottom. They like “peelers” or crawfishes that molt their shell in a day or two. At 40 degrees refrigeration, the process can be delayed by stopping the hardening procedure for 10-12 days.


Compared to other live baits, it is relatively easy to keep crayfish because there is no need for you to put them in a big tank with a filtration system. As we have discussed in this post, you can store crayfish at home or the fishing camp with a few simple materials.

Crawfish is underrated bait, but catfish and other fishes love them. Fishing with crawfish can increase angler success. Follow the steps and tips in this section, and you should be good to go.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have other tips on how to keep crawfish alive? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

How To Keep Crawfish Alive – Fast and Easy Steps
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