When Is Crawfish Season?

Find the right time to get your crawfish.

Determining crawfish season isn't as simple as picking dates on a calendar and sticking to them year after year—weather, especially temperature and precipitation, significantly affects crawfish availability.

The length of the season also depends on your location. Louisiana's crawfish season stretches a bit longer than the Texas season. But just because crawfish season doesn't have a standard beginning or end doesn't mean there isn't a right time to get your crawfish.

What Is Crawfish?

Let's start with the basics: What is crawfish? Crawfish, otherwise known as craydids, crawdads, rock lobsters, and a bunch of additional names, is a crustacean similar in appearance to a small lobster. Crawfish are found in fresh waters and reside in swamps, rivers, and lakes.

The most popular commercial crawfish are the red swamp and white river crawfish. Despite sharing the appearance of a small lobster, crawfish does not share its taste—or even the taste of other crustaceans such as crabs. Its unique flavor makes this seafood popular for Southern staples such as gumbo and traditional boils.

When To Buy Crawfish?

Crawfish season can last from November to July, especially during an exceptionally warm and wet winter. Still, the most reliable months—and the time you'll find the best crawfish—are in the springtime and early summer, from late February through May.

An easy way to remember when crawfish are in season is to time them by the holidays. In warm and wet years, crawfish may be available in time for Christmas. But it's the Lenten season, especially Easter when crawfish season hits full swing. If you're in a crawfish-loving city like New Orleans, Easter crawfish boils are so popular that you'd be wise to get your order in well before Good Friday if you're hoping to find enough "mudbugs" for a boil.

What Impacts When To Purchase Crawfish?

According to Farm Progress, cold weather is a major contributor to crawfish supplies. When temperatures sink below 60 degrees, crawfish become less active and less likely to bait into traps. In colder temperatures, crawfish, like other crustaceans, burrow into the mud for a dormant state. If the weather doesn't improve and adult crawfish die in burrows, there is no chance for young crawfish to emerge, which will also decrease a harvester's supply.

Crawfish supplies factor into the best time to purchase this delicious seafood. When there is a high demand for crawfish, crawfish farms try to supply as much of these crustaceans to people as possible, which leads to overcrowding. When crawfish farms are overcrowded, the size of these fish decreases.

Viet-Cajun Crawfish Boil
Caitlin Bensel; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton

What Is a Crawfish Boil?

A crawfish boil combines seafood, including crawfish, with potatoes, corn, Cajun seasonings, and more in a large container to boil. After preparation, this tradition usually includes spreading newspapers on the table and pouring the entire boil directly on top.

How To Make a Crawfish Boil

  1. Bring 4 1/2 gallons of water to a rolling boil in a 14- to 16-gallon stockpot over high. (Start early! Boiling could take 45 minutes-1 hour.)
  2. Add seafood boil, salt, Creole seasoning, bay leaves, lemons, garlic, and onions. Stir until spices dissolve.
  3. Add potatoes, and return to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Add sausage and simmer for five minutes.
  4. Cut each ear of corn into four pieces, and add them to the pot. Simmer 10 minutes. (If you lose your boil at any point, cover with a lid to return it to a simmer.)
  5. Add crawfish, and simmer for five to 10 minutes.
  6. Line a large sheet pan with newspaper or parchment paper.
  7. Pour mixture through a large colander, or remove crawfish and vegetables from water, using a slotted spoon. Place crawfish and vegetables on a pan.
  8. Serve with Creole Mayo for dipping.
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