Have you been out and about near the Puntledge River lately? Did you think you saw a lobster?
Don’t worry, you weren’t seeing things!
It’s a species of freshwater crustacean known as the signal crayfish. It’s native to the southern quarter of BC from the Kootenays west to VanIsle.
And it’s pretty delicious.
This crustacean has a blueish brown to green body. Males can grow up to 16 cm in length, about the width of a big hand. They thrive in cool waters and can even be found in subalpine lakes, and they like to hide under rocks in the shallow parts of a river.
They are also known as crawfish, craydids, crawdaddies, crawdads, mudbugs, babybugs and yabbies.
And yes, folks eat their tails the way we eat those famous east coast lobsters.
They can be caught using baited traps, but any crayfish smaller than 9 cm have to be released back into the water. Some people prefer a sportier approach and catch them by hand.
But watch out—they hurt if you’re going mano-a-mano with a bigger specimen that latches on to your finger.
To make it safer, pick them up just behind the sharp pincers. They’re quick if startled. These backwards-swimming creatures can scoot to safety if needed.
As a nocturnal species, crayfish are most active between dusk at dawn. That means nighttime is the right time for the serious crayfish hunter.
Though crayfish farming is big business in the southern US, especially Louisiana, it hasn’t been done commercially in BC—yet.
Business idea, anyone??
If you have no interest in turning them into a side hustle, you could simply swim in your favourite river or lake and enjoy spotting these curious creatures.