Crawfish just in time for Mardi Gras
MORGAN CITY, La. -- Local seafood restaurants are seeing a decent supply of crawfish right now from ponds but say crawfishing in the Atchafalaya Basin does not get going until later in the season.
Susie’s Seafood in Morgan City is getting most of their crawfish from crawfish ponds in the rice fields in Crowley, said co-owner Murray Reed.
Reed said they get their crawfish from the ponds most of the year as crawfishing takes a while to “kick off” in the Atchafalaya Basin, he said.
“When they do kick off the big crawfishing when they catch so many sacks, it’s too much for me to handle every day, like 80, 90 sacks,” Reed said. “So when we get them from over there, we get 20, 25, 30 (sacks) a day.”
The price of crawfish went up about 25 cents for the Super Bowl, then went back to about the same price after the Super Bowl, he said.
“So I’m kind of figuring they’re going to be the same through Lent,” Reed said. He said fishermen are getting around $1.75 per pound for crawfish, and he’s paying around $2.25 per pound right now.
They’re selling live crawfish for $2.50 per pound currently, Reed said.
So far in 2013, crawfishing in ponds has been better than the last couple of years because of the substantial amount of rainfall during the summer of 2012, said Mark Shirley, an agent in Vermillion Parish with the LSU AgCenter.
“That (rainfall) has improved conditions for crawfish survival during the summer,” Shirley said. “The numbers of crawfish that came out in the fall were much better than what we saw the previous couple of seasons. And that is turning into a better supply of crawfish for this current season.”
The catch of crawfish in ponds does fluctuate week to week based on the weather. “The colder the water, the slower they move, and the fewer crawfish get into a trap,” Shirley said.
When the water cools down and then warms up shortly after cooling down, the change in temperature can stimulate crawfish molt, or shed their shells, and grow, which can have an effect on the catch of crawfish, he said. “That shedding process takes usually two or three days during which time they do not come to the trap.”
Though Shirley, who is in Abbeville, said he does not follow crawfishing in the Atchafalaya Basin closely, he said Basin production is “hit and miss depending on the water level in the Basin.”
Susie’s Seafood mainly sells crawfish to their regular customers, and doesn’t keep crawfish on hand all the time, he said.
“To me, it’s (crawfish business) a little slower (so far) this year, but I think that’s more to the economy,” Reed said.
“I think we’re going to have a good year, just got to have a little patience, that’s all,” Reed said.
Bee Bee’s Seafood in Berwick is also getting its crawfish from ponds by way of Dwayne’s Seafood in Ville Platte, said owner Susie Stratton. Later in the season, as crawfishing heats up, they also get crawfish from crawfishers at St. Mary Seafood in the port of West St. Mary, Stratton said.
They’re currently selling crawfish for about $2.80 or $2.90 per pound, she said. She said they’re seeing a good supply of crawfish for this time of year.