Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Fishing for crawdads at Strawberry

ON PAGE 13, the Utah fishing Guidebook states, “Fishing for crayfish (also called crawdads) is a fun activity for the whole family.” But I’m here to tell you that crawdaddin’ is not just “fun,” it’s crazy-awesome and you have got to give it a try.

Crayfish are delicious, but make sure they're dead before you transport them.

My first foray into crawdad fishing occurred last Saturday and I had a blast. All it took was chicken legs, string and a net. The net is critical. The other component to my on-the-water adventure was a friend who was willing to show my four-year-old and me the ropes. (Seriously though, if you’ve never fished for these creatures, you can figure it out. Tying string to a chicken leg is not rocket science.)

Our adventure happened at Strawberry Reservoir, but you can find crawdads in many waters throughout the state. There isn’t much to it, but there are two rules you must remember. First, if you’re 13 or older, you’ll need a fishing license. Second, do not transport live crayfish.

Step 1. Set up camp. We planted ourselves on the boat dock behind Strawberry Bay Marina. The spot was close to the parking lot and the marina’s restrooms. (I love the outdoors, but real restrooms are delightful.)

Step 2. Tie a length of string to a raw chicken leg and lower it into the water until the chicken rests on the bottom. We used pink nylon string, but that’s only because my kiddo is a girlie girl and if pink is an option, pink is what we pick.

Step 3. Let the chicken leg sit on the bottom for a while, maybe 5–10 minutes. Be patient. Sometimes you will even be able to see the crayfish climbing on the chicken.

Step 4. Slowly pull in the string while your net is in the water. When you’re able to get the net under the chicken leg, scoop it up fast—crayfish move fast in the water. Once crayfish realize that they’re headed skyward, it’s bam, outa there. The teamwork approach works great for this step.

Step 5. Whoop, holler and jump around excitedly as you plunk your catch into a cooler or bucket. Be prepared for passersby to ask what you’re doing and want to see your treasures.

Crayfish are easy to handle, but grab them behind their claw legs so you don’t get pinched.

This is the best gauge of the fun we had: my daughter—remember, she’s four—tended chicken legs for nearly four hours without complaining that she was hot, bored or ready to leave. We did watch some people walking back from the marina with ice cream cones, and she immediately needed one, but c’mon, it was ice cream. I wanted one too.

I checked with a few of the Division’s aquatic biologists to get a list of top crayfish spots across the state. Hands down, Strawberry Reservoir has the best crawdad reputation, but here are a few other waters where you might be able to pull in some mud bugs:

For more information on taking crayfish, check pages 13 and 14 of the Utah Fishing Guidebook.