Trap instead of rod: how to catch crayfish

Although the crayfish is almost extinct, non-native species taste just as delicious. We show you step by step how and where you can catch crayfish yourself and prepare them afterwards.

What crabs to catch?

In Austria you can find the following species interesting for fishermen:

  • Crayfish* (noble crayfish)
  • Stone crayfish* (stream crayfish)
  • Signal crabs
  • Marbled crayfish

These species marked with * are native, but almost extinct in Austria. The reason for this is not only the construction of flowing waters, but also the crayfish plague (a fungus).

Signal crayfish (non-native) with the typical white dots on the claws.

Signal and marbled crayfish are non-native, i.e. introduced species. The signal crayfish, which originated in North America, was imported in the 1960s and released into our waters. With him the crayfish plague came into the country and wiped out the stocks of native species. He himself, by the way, is resistant to.

The marble crayfish was only discovered for the first time in Salzburg in 2018. Probably – experts say – it was released by aquarium owners.

These invasive species are on the one hand a great threat to native crayfish species and on the other hand are excellent for consumption, even to be called a delicacy. That’s why we’ve taken a look at catching cancer, and created the following step-by-step guide.

Stone Crab

Stone crayfish on sandy ground. (Photo: oBf-Archiv/Simlinger)

How to catch crabs?

Equipment: The easiest way to catch crayfish is with a fish trap (or crayfish baskets or. Crayfish plate). These are available in different variants in the fishing market or Internet and in principle all functional, one should pay attention however to a stable building method and whether the Reuse is to be emptied easily. In good fish traps there is still a food basket, so that crayfish that have already fallen into the trap cannot eat the bait and thus be attracted to more crayfish. We have used a simple trappy cage.

Weirs come in a wide variety of designs. Important is the stable construction and easy emptying.

Of course, you can also search for crayfish by hand with a hand landing net and a stick. This variant is more exciting, but far less effective.

Where to catch crayfish?

The Spot: Basically, you can find crayfish in almost any natural body of water and in most commercial waters. No matter if Danube, Traun or Mur, there is almost no river section where no crayfish live (you can find reports here and here). Nevertheless, the success of the catch is not guaranteed. So where do you find?

Crayfish like to keep themselves in Stone packs and scribing on. Trees, branches and brush lying in the water also provide a good habitat for the crayfish. Preferably they keep in current-calmed areas On why the area near the river bank is suitable for laying out the fish trap. Bridges have also proven to be cancer hotspots.

Stone clearings, scrub, bridge: A hotspot for crayfish.

Crayfish fishing also requires the respective licenses for the water body.

What kind of bait to use to catch crayfish??

The bait: Crabs are omnivores. From aquatic plants to worms, insect larvae, amphibians and snails to mussels and fish scraps, the crayfish stops at nothing. Also any kind of fishing bait is on its menu, which has already robbed some carp fishermen of their last nerve. Nevertheless, the bait decides whether and how many crayfish you catch. Even though many things are on the menu, not everything has the same attracting effect. The following have proved to be particularly effective Fish shreds/innards or whole bait fish proven. Some also swear by cat food. The wisdom "the more it stinks, the better the attracting effect", however, is probably rather to be dismissed as a myth. Although crayfish also eat carrion, the attraction effect is greater with fresh prey.

The bait is placed in the fish trap in the food basket. In addition, we put another part loosely into the fish trap to increase the attracting effect and to develop it faster.

How to catch crabs?

The method: Crayfish are nocturnal animals, so it is best to set your fish trap overnight (note: in some waters, fish traps may only be set under the observation of the angler). The fish trap should not be in the water for much longer than one night, so as not to keep the trapped crabs in it for an unnecessarily long time. Besides, the bait eventually loses its attraction.

Once the right spot is found, it’s ready to go:

1. Fill the bait basket and place it in the fish trap (if possible fix it in the middle).

Fish scraps are an effective bait.

2. Close the cage and make sure the connecting cord is tied tightly.

3. Cast the fish trap slightly above the desired spot (the current will still tolerate it until it comes to rest). Make sure that one opening is downstream to facilitate the crab’s access. In a creek, the fish trap can be partially out of the water, it won’t stop the animals from climbing in.

Thrown upstream, the fish trap comes to rest at the desired spot.


Even in small streams, fish traps are used.

4. Tie the connecting cord to the shore. The best way to do this is to use larger branches or stones around which you wrap the string. It should not be forgotten that the flow velocity and the water level can change depending on the location.

Tie the fish trap to the shore with a string.

5. Now, if possible, the fish trap should be left in place for one night, so that the bait has enough time to develop its attracting effect and the crayfish to start looking for the bait and finally get into the fish trap. If you don’t have a whole night (for example, because the cage must not be left unattended), you should at least give it two to three hours to do so.

6. Catch up and open the cage with the connecting cord.

7. Carefully empty the caught crayfish from the fish trap into a bucket filled with water or, even better, take them out one by one by hand. To do this, you can grab the crab with your index finger and thumb on the back, behind the claws. So the crab cannot reach the hand with its claws. Take the water out of the bucket. It is essential to make sure that the crabs survive the time between catching and cooking, as crab meat starts to decompose especially quickly.

When you take the crayfish with you, make sure that you don’t have a native crayfish mixed in with the signal crayfish. The conspicuous white dots on the claws of the signal crayfish make it easy to distinguish between them.

Held at the back armor the scissors do not reach the hand.

ATTENTION: Crayfish, like fish, are subject to the respective fishing laws of the federal states. In Lower Austria, for example, the closed season for male noble and stone crayfish lasts from November to May, and the Brittel measure is twelve centimeters. The females are spared all year. For the catch a license is necessary. Non-native crabs have no closed season and no Brittel measure.

Video about catching signal crayfish on the Danube:

If embedding the video doesn’t work, here’s how to watch the movie on YouTube.

How to kill crayfish?

Crayfish are killed by placing them in boiling water. Even if this may seem strange, it is the gentlest way for the crab. When the water really boils, the animal is dead in seconds. To make sure the water stays boiling, you put the crabs into the water one by one, head first, no more than three to five at a time. In the process, the crabs acquire the typical red discoloration.

After about five to seven minutes, the meat is cooked through and ready to eat. Edible is only the meat in the tail of the animal and in larger specimens the claw meat. To get to the meat, the tail is separated from the breastplate by twisting it. Then the shell can be detached from the meat.

Attention: Never eat animals that have already died before cooking. The crab meat starts to decompose after just a few minutes.

Head first into strong boiling water, so the crab is dead in seconds. Entered individually, a maximum of 3 to 5 animals are cooked at the same time. This keeps the water boiling at all times.

How to prepare crab?

Crayfish get a red shell from boiling.

To prepare this delicacy there are several recipes. We decided to make a quick and easy dish: Spaghetti with crabs in pepper-pepperoni sauce.


  • 500g spaghetti
  • 350g crab meat
  • 1 package of Brunch Paprika Pepperoni Spread
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 package of cocktail tomatoes


  1. Cooking spaghetti al dente
  2. Meanwhile, halve the tomatoes and chop the garlic.
  3. Saute garlic in pan (with olive oil)
  4. Add crab meat and tomatoes and fry for 6 minutes.
  5. Then add brunch paprika-pepperoni spread and slowly mix to a sauce.

Garnish Tip: Garnish two cooked crabs whole on the spaghetti.

Another way of preparation here in the video:

If the embedding of the video does not work, here is the movie on YouTube.

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