Eureka Springs Independent Column

In the spring flowing behind our house, there are little bitty crawdads. I’ve not seen one for awhile, but I trust that they are still lurking in the water. I’m glad that they are there, as I’ve read that crawdads are an indicator of healthy water. As you probably know, if you played in creeks as a kid, crawdads are small crustaceans, miniature freshwater lobsters with pincers. Though usually called crawdads in the Ozarks’ vernacular, they’re also called crayfish, crawfish and mudbugs.

When I was young, my Uncle Dana Scott came over from Rogers and took some of us out to catch crawdads. The way I recall it, we walked several creeks that day carrying buckets, looking under rocks and logs until we’d caught a mess of them to eat. We used our hands to catch them and, with practice, I didn’t get pinched. Dana cooked them up and they were quite tasty.

There are supposed to be approximately 60 different species of crawdads in Arkansas, and most are found in the cold springs and creeks of either the Ozarks or the Ouachitas. They come in a variety of sizes and colors: the ones in my spring are brown and smaller than two inches. Bigger ones can also be found, though.

Local outdoorsman Jared Mourglia has caught crawdads in the 8 inch range. Wearing goggles, he dove into Kings River and captured them by hand under the piers of the old US 62 bridge. I believe crawdads that large would have to be the long-pincered variety that are found only in the White River Basin of Arkansas and Missouri. I’ve read that some experts say the long-pincered crawdad is the largest in North America. While catching crawdads by hand is always an option, I’ve heard of others locally using baited traps to capture these big crawdads by the dozen.

Though commercial operations are more common in Louisiana, Arkansas does have crawdad farms. The crawdads are raised as food and, prepared correctly,  they not only taste great, but are very high in Vitamin B12, which is essential for proper brain function.