How to Catch and Release Crayfish (Crawdads) for Fun
I tend to think of a crawdad as a miniature lobster. Crayfish look kinda prehistoric don't they? I bet they have been around for a long, long time. Most people probably think of the Louisiana bayou or New Orleans when they think of crayfish but they actually live across a large swath of America. I use to catch crayfish in rural Ohio as a boy and it was great fun.
If you want to try catching crawdads you need to go to a creek, pond or even perhaps a muddy place. In places like this you can find small, medium or large crayfish. Turning over rocks in or on the side of a creek is a great place to find crayfish. I suggest you turn the rock over with your foot or a stick as there could be other critters under there as well...like a snake.
You will need to have some type of container in order to capture them. The container can be an old plastic pitcher like those you drink tea or lemonade out of or something else along those lines.
When scared or in retreat crayfish actually propel themselves backwards. Move gently, slowly and quietly once you spot one or you will scare it away. So, you first put the container a little bit behind them. You then put your hand or a stick in front of them. They normally will either quickly propel themselves backwards or perhaps they will show their claws to you and slowly backup. Nevertheless, they will propel or back themselves into your container. You may need to practice a bit to develop a good technique.
You can pick the larger crawdads up if you want. Using your thumb and first finger pick them up on each side of their head just behind their claws. This way, they cannot raise or flex their claws enough to pinch you. Do this carefully as they are rather fragile...you don't want to injure them. The small ones you can pick up freely---they can't hurt you much with their tiny claws.
Once captured you can marvel at them, study them, etc. You can take them in your home for perhaps a day or two. You can transfer them to a different container if you wish. Try to put a few other things from their natural environment in the container like some mud, a rock and, some plant material. The water in the container should be the same temperature as the water you captured them from. Perhaps put a piece of cat food in the water and make it sink so your friend can have a snack if he/she wants to.
You can create a small aquarium for them and keep them I suppose. If you do, study first how to take care of them. I suggest having them as a guest for a day or two and then release them. It is best to release them to the same area from which they were captured.
I spent many hours playing around creeks when I was little. In the process, I turned over many rocks to see and catch crawdads. What fun this was as a young boy! I'm 45 now but look back upon this in a rather nostalgic way.