Spillway could be on verge of big crawfish yield

When the Bonnet Carre Spillway opens, as it did earlier this year, it’s been known to create quite the crawfishing opportunity for anglers in the area, who have no doubt been waiting for their chance to strike this year.

That time may have arrived.

For those who catch crawfish, the Spillway could be just the place to find a big haul over the next few weeks as crawfish have been known known to heavily populate the water body following openings leading up to or during the season, bringing people out en masse to find a crawfish extravaganza awaiting them.

Chris Brantley, project manager for the Bonnet Carre Spillway, said he’s noticed an increased number of people out fishing.

“I think there have certainly been a few more people out here,” Brantley said. “It’s picking up and they seem to be catching a few. I think we’re moving into that period and over the next week or so, you should see even more people out.”

Brantley said time periods after the spillway opens provide a lot of water and, along with it, the opportunity for crawfish to grow and feed on the spillway’s vegetation. That, he believes, is what primarily leads to the bump in numbers.

“When we don’t have openings, it kind of restricts the amount of area crawfish can live in. They’re aquatic animals and they need water to live in,” Brantley said.

Ordinarily, if that crawfish boom is to come, it usually happens earlier in the season, Brantley said. He surmised with the river water so cool earlier in the year it may have kept crawfish from growing quickly and being active.

“But the river’s been dropping and it’s starting to create more ponds for crawfish,” Brantley said.

Erik Donnaud, manager of the Seafood Pot in Destrehan, said the Spillway opening has definitely had a notable effect in past years.

“It really has to happen right now for crawfish season to keep going. I know a lot of people try to go fishing there and have had a lot of success,” Donnaud said. “It has a big effect.”

He said such positive bumps to the crawfish crop have been known to extend crawfish season into the summer and even as late as September.

“I never thought we’d have crawfish all the way through September,” Donnaud said. “But it happened. We’ve boiled crawfish in every month of the year at some point.”

He said naturally, the added supply, if realized, yields lower prices for customers.

He also believes this tends to yield better tasting crawfish as well.

“I think you tend to find some of your better tasting crawfish, more natural crawfish than you might find in a pond where farmers have planted them there,” Donnaud said. “I think this has a more clean taste to them, a cleaner body of water …toward the end, you see these crawfish take over and the pond crawfish start to play itself out.”

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