The plan for Father’s Day was to take a long, lazy float down the Delaware River and get after some smallmouths. I’ve been catching them pretty good lately, dad knew it, and as he always gets to pick the quarry on Father’s Day, I wasn’t shocked by his choice. The tube bite has been exceptional over the last few weeks, and I know that if brown tubes are on, live crayfish will be on even harder. On Saturday I set out to round up a few dozen for our trip and when I crossed the Delaware en route to my crawfish creek, it was flowing super high and the color of toilet water on enchilada night. So much for our Father’s Day float.


Despite not being able to use live crayfish the next day, I was already halfway to the honey hole and I like to keep a stock of livies in the garage, so I pressed on. I have been catching crayfish in the same creek since I was a grasshopper, although back then my grandfather and I weren’t gathering bait as much as ingredients for a boil. In all those years, we never used traps and I still don’t. That’s just no fun. I’d much rather slowly lift rocks, let the silt clear, and attack lone targets with a dip net. Even today, I get so caught up in the pursuit of crayfish that what was supposed to be an hour-long session turns into an entire afternoon because it’s a blast and I always just want to get one or two more.

I’ve dug and shocked loads of nightcrawlers. It’s too easy to be exciting. Hellgrammites? Too few and far between to be enjoyable. But crayfish are different. You lift a rock and a perfect-sized specimen bolts away. You keep an eye on it, watching which rock it heads to next and say, “I’m gonna hunt you down, sucker.” I don’t think I could ever get tired of it.

What’s your favorite kind of bait to catch or collect?