Crayfishing is a lot of fun. Lake Iso-Roine, Hauho.
What could be nicer than setting crayfish pots on gently darkening autumn nights and checking for catches the following morning? Catches of signal crayfish have increased dramatically on the major lakes of Southern Finland, so there's more and more rustle to be heard in the pots.
The crayfishing season starts at 12 noon on 21st July and spans to the end of October. The hottest season lasts up until mid-September.
Signal crayfish are caught on the rocky bottoms of lake shores and shoals. The suitable catch depth is usually 3 to 6 metres. Crayfish parties in good company represent the Finnish autumn atmosphere at its best.
Signal crayfish thrive on rocky shores
Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) are caught on the rocky bottoms of lake shores and shoals. Good crayfishing spots include areas growing water lilies and close to tree trunks that have fallen into the water. The suitable catch depth is usually 3 to 6 metres, but crayfish always move as deep as the rocky bottom extends. You may also get good catches in shallow waters, at a depth of one metre.
Crayling's movements are seasonal and the best areas to catch them vary over the course of the crayfishing season. When crayfish are in the process of shedding their crusts, catches are poor. Big signal crayfish sometimes go to feed on completely smooth bottoms.
Photo: Jari Salonen
Signal crayfish have made themselves at home in Lake Pyhäjärvi, Tampere.
Plastic tubular pots are most popular, as they yield good catches and are easy to handle. The best and most commonly used bait is roach, but crayfish will also be attracted to other baitfish.
You can either lower the pots one at a time or on a rig, attached to the main leader at 5-to-10-metre intervals. A common method is to lower the traps in the evening and check them the following morning, but signal crayfish also fall into the trap in the daytime. When waters are warm, baitfish will not remain in good condition for long.
Crayfish are boiled in brine with dill for about 10 minutes.
Major lakes as crayfish repositories
Crayfishing opportunities have increased significantly on the major lakes of Southern Finland as stocks of signal crayfish have strengthened. Good crayfishing waters include the southern part of Lake Saimaa, Lakes Kukkia, Pälkänevesi, Roine, Näsijärvi and Päijänne, Lake Pyhäjärvi in Säkylä as well as another Lake Pyhäjärvi in Tampere.
Indigenous noble crayfish (Astacus astacus) can be found in many small lakes and river systems. The crayfish plague destroyed the best crayfish stocks and, in order to avoid spreading the plague, you should always disinfect your crayfish pots if they have been used in different water bodies. Noble crayfish thrive in shallow waters and are usually caught in 1-to-2-metre waters or in very shallow waters in brooks, using crayfish nets or even by hand.
Photo: Ismo Kolari
Autumn is the season for crayfish parties.
Merry-making at crayfish parties
Crayfish are boiled in 3–4% brine with dill and some sugar for seasoning. The clawed critters are cooled down and enjoyed with toast, trimmings and white wine and other drinks. Crayfish parties in good company represent the Finnish autumn atmosphere at its best.