A few months back, I wrote about the opening of crawfish season. In “normal” years the season would be over around July 4th. I’d be back to craving crawfish until Spring of next year.
But this year looks to be different.
This year’s crawfish season has been slow. Icy weather at the opening of the season (Super Bowl weekend) delayed the opening. And now, the flooding along the Mississippi and subsequent opening of the Morganza Spillway is submerging some of the country’s best crawfish land under 8-10 feet of water. Crawfishermen in the Atchafalya Basin prefer 3-4 feet of water in the bayous.
The bad news is the current market price of crawfish is higher than usual. The good news is this flooding could stretch the crawfish season into August or even September.
The high water is making it harder to catch crawfish, leaving more of a supply for later in the summer. Furthermore, the rush of cold, oxygynated, nutrient-rich water will improve crawfish conditions throughout the region, and especially in stagnant ponds in dire need of fresh water.
But it’s not just the ponds receiving improved crawfish conditions. The dry land benefits too. If you’ve ever had a crawfish boil in your backyard, you’ve surely noticed something strange a few days, weeks or even months later…whenever you get the next big rain. Crawfish everywhere!
The good news is this flooding could stretch the crawfish season into August or even September.
Where did they come from? Some crawfish escaped during your boil and bury themselves in the dirt. They lay dormant, kind of like a crustacean hibernation. When the first rain comes, they come out of the new mud to start breeding. And there is a lot of new mud right now.
Much like forest fires rejuvenate wooded areas, floods are healthy and natural for basins. The entire ecosystem benefits. Not to mention those of us who want to have a Labor Day crawfish boil this year!Jon Alexis is our resident fishmonger and co-owner of TJ’s Seafood Market in Dallas, Texas.