Growing Up – Catching Crawdads

When WWII ended, my Grandma Bryan lived in Marlin, Texas, three miles out on Rock Damn Road. She owned acreage and the house was set back from the road and when you turned into the drive, it crossed over a large embankment making a natural damn that most of the time, except for periods of extreme drought, held water. This water also held plenty of crawdads!

We, my cousins and neighbor boys, would spend our time “fishing” for these crawdads. Through trial and error, we found out that if a piece of bacon from Grandma’s smoke house was securely tied to a piece of kite line, the crawdads would tenaciously hold on to the bacon even while they were lifted from the water. Then we would drop them into a net, separate them from the bacon and drop them into a glass dish.

We never could get Grandma or our Mothers to fry up our catch so, dedicatedly, after the dish had several crawdads in it, we practiced catch and release. We determined that if we caught all of ‘em, we couldn’t spend our time fishing for them

Once, to my surprise, I tried to grab a larger, one behind his pinchers, but it was quicker than me and inflicted a painful pinch to my finger. Another time we caught, what I now would call, an Opelousas Red. Maybe not a real Red, but this one was much larger than the others and very, very aggressive, not wanting to yield its bacon to our prying fingers. It would rare up on its tail and wave its claws menacingly at us, then attack when we tried to grab the bacon. We used a broom to shoo it back into the water and then quickly moved to another location around the pond.

A great drought hit our State in the late 40’s, the crawdad pond went dry for several years and they moved out and never took up residence there again. Last year, on one of my morning walks, what did I come across but a crawdad crossing the County Road. This one was a big ‘un an years before, having learned a painful lesson well, I gave Mr. Crawdad a wide berth.