Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Crawdads

My life in appalachia crawdads

Have you ever been pinched by a crawdad? The old saying is: if a crawdad pinches you it won’t let go till it thunders. If you have been pinched by a crawdad-then you fully understand the saying indicates a pinch by a crawdad is a painful ordeal.

We used to try and get crawdads to snap small sticks to pieces-surprisingly most of the time it worked. Did you ever play with crawdads? The kids around here still do.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Al Sheppard
    February 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    As a kid, my cousins and I would dam up the creek, catch crawdads, snap off their tail and suck the meat out ! Never worried about Cotton-Mouths, Boy do I miss them Mountains !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    Oh yeah, I remember playing with those at my Grandma’s creek.
    We were always told that snapping turtles won’t let go till it thunders, either.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    June 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I’ve never been bitten by one, but we used to have a giant one in our spring. It could almost be eaten as a lobster–huge pinschers!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    June 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    No, can’t say I ever played with ’em or ate ’em either. I usually give things with pincers and teeth a wide berth. Up North, we called ’em Crayfish. Bro Tom said they taste like dirt. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Hi Tipper,My son called crawdading and he enjoyed doing it.He was 6 or 7 when he and his dad took the eating part off and son fryed them over a camp fire.God Bless.Jean

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    and Charlotte, No I don’t remember a little pearl being in a crayfish! Would that be a mussel instead? Hope you answer because, I’d be interested in heading down in the woods to the spring!….I’d love me a new string of pearls….
    Now then, the Tennessee mussel has pearls..but never seen one but the storeboughten kind!
    PS…I only have the artifical type of pearls…

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    June 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I still do. It’s just natural if I get around the branch or creek to start turning up rocks looking for them. 🙂

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    and Ron Banks, I’ve heard of crawfishin’ in the way you mentioned. We mostly use “backpeddlin” to get out of a situation!..LOL
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    If crawdad catching was an Olympic Sport I could have at least won a Bronze Metal. I’m sure there wasn’t that many girls my age that loved catching crawdads as much as I did. Evidently there just wan’t much to do in the neck of the woods I grew up in. I am over the age of 50 now and I still like catching crawdads!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    I’m surprised I’ve never been pinched by one since we played in the branches with them all summer when we were kids. We’d fish for them, using a twine string with a piece of fat meat tied to the end. Made good catches! My sister knew how to open them up and take out a little white “pearl”. Does anyone remember that being inside a crawdad?

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    June 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    I’ve heard if a turtle bites he won’t let go till it thunders, never heard it about crawdads, though.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I got a minnow trap here in Worm
    Creek by the shop and keep my
    friend in Creek Minnows. We just
    mash a couple slices of fresh loaf
    bread into a ball and the next day
    the trap has minnows and lots of
    crawfish in it. Up at my house I
    have some Red ones. But I’ve always heard that those red lizards with black spots would bite you and not let go till it thundered. That ain’t true cause
    we use to catch boocoos of ’em
    with a gas lantern when it was
    I’ve caught catfish and bass with
    crawdads over in Santeetlah lake
    at Robbinsville…Ken

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    June 6, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Used to catch them and use them for fish bait when I was a kid. Don’t remember any bad times about getting pinched; guess it depended on how you handled the little critters. They seem to have died out in the streams where we used to catch them. Might be due to runoff of agricultural pesticides. The bit about not letting go until it thunders was also said about snapping turtles, and a little more believable in that case.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

    We used to call them mud bugs as well as crayfish and crawdads. They would tunnel way back away from the creek bank and come up in a little cone shaped mound of mud. When you walked up they would back down into their tunnel. They also swim backward in deeper water. They flip their tail under and away they go.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    June 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Appearances suggest that a grandaddy crawdad took holt of Chitter and drug her up one side of the creek and down the other 😉
    Somebody’s bound to mention the use of crawdads for fish bait. I’ll admit that I’ve only used the artificial version – putting a live one on a hook might be an interesting proposition.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    June 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

    The little creek on our farm – Burleson Branch is full of ’em here in Maryland. Last year I measured one that I found at 7 inches from tail to tip of huge claw! I always heard that it was a snappin’ turtle that wouldn’t let go until it thunders. THAT would hurt!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

    When I was teaching in another part of Central Texas some 25 or so years ago, I had crawfish (that’s what the locals called crawdads) in an aquarium courtesy some of my students. They brought some in after they showed up in a nearby arroyo seca (dry creek)during an unusually rainy fall. Those kids were so excited about them that they dilligently went to the creek for fresh water (and “stuff”) each morning to change out half the water. Amazingly, the creek had water that whole year and the crawdads survived until the following spring when they were released back to the creek. They even survived some of the students’ and other teachers’ demands for a crawfish boil.
    I’ve always wondered where the crawfish came from, and where they went when the creek went dry. Can’t imagine finding any there in this drought; and, wonder if they would show up after some good steady rains.
    By the way, there are no bayous here for them to take refuge in between rains – just limestoney soil covered with scrub cedar with lots of dry draws and arroyo secas. When I look at your pictures and read y’all’s descriptions of Appalachia, I think you must live in the Garden of Eden!!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 8:51 am

    My friend thought she was doing me a special favor when she took me to eat at a new restaurant for my birthday. The restaurant had received rave reviews on their exotic dishes. I swear they could have called it Crawdad Cafe as every dish had crawdads as the main ingredient. I stirred my food around on my plate, getting nauseous as I pretended to eat an occasional bite. I left as hungry as I was when I walked through their doors. The place closed in a few months.
    My gransons love catching those things. They have never complained of getting pinched. When I waded the creek as a child, I was terrified they would pinch my toes.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    June 6, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I chuckled over your photo for I think I see a male arm and hand holding the critter. Having a helper would have been my choice, too. None of those little fellows ever bit me, but I once tasted crayfish in Cajun cooking.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    June 6, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Yes, I played with them. Use to chase the girls with them too! Does anyone use the term crawfishing? Like when someone is backing out of a deal or after someone being called on a tall tale and they try to retell it to make it more believable.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    June 6, 2013 at 8:13 am

    O yea,, we’d rub them together and makem fight, the big ones would some time pinch a smaller ones pincher off. They make good fish bait too..

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    June 6, 2013 at 8:08 am

    There was a creek a short walk from our home when I was a kid. I lived for wading in that creek in summer. I caught, and was pinched by, many a crawdad in my day. We also caught tiny little catfish, never any more than 1-1/2 inches in length.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    June 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Yes, they will put a hurtin’ on yore fanger! Ouch! It don’t take you long to look at one. That is why you have to have a good eye when huntin’ spring lizards, so as not to grab a crawdad along with your spring lizard! Most times the crawdads would scoot backards real fast and be gone before the hand got down to the spring lizard. Sometimes a baby crawdad, not experienced at the scootin’ boogie would let hisself get caught. They don’t hurt much. Those biggin’s do! I always hated when liftin’ a rock, a big old granddaddy crawdad backed up over your toes. It would scare me to death!
    I always thought that the snappin’ turtle would only turn loose til it thundered. That’s the way I heard that tale! Usually, I shook off a baby crawdad off my fingers, afore it had time to think about thunder or what was happening to itself!
    I had a person would cure that problem…One big pincher, One big rock on his head…Sad I know, I still love the little devils. They help keep the springs clean, but the Kingfisher bird likes ’em! I wonder if they taste like little lobsters to them! Thanks for the memory!
    Good post Tipper,

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

    When I was small my family lived in Pasadena Texas for a few years. My mother absolutely hated it and couldn’t wait to get back to the mountains. It was so hot and flat there and with lots of crawdads.
    There was a bayou near our house and I used to go there and catch crawdads with a piece of bacon tied to the end of a string. The crawdads would use those pinchers to get hold of the bacon and they wouldn’t let go. I could pull then in and put them in a bucket.
    My family didn’t eat them but I had a friend whose mother made crawdad gumbo with them.
    When it rained in Pasadena everything was so flat that water would stand everywhere. The crawdads would be everywhere in the yards following heavy rain. I would go with my friend, whose mother cooked gumbo, and catch them. My friend had a wagon and we just pulled that little wagon from yard to yard till we had it full of crawdads for his mom to cook.
    My goodness, that is an old memory from a long time ago.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 7:36 am

    No crawdaddies for me! I’ll pass on that experience!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Oh my, never even saw one, they look like grasshoppers…ugly bugs.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 6, 2013 at 7:07 am

    I can catch the crawdads anytime they are home during the season. Ours don’t pinch but they do pinch hit. The Hickory Crawdads is the name of the minor league baseball team in my area. The company I work for has a box at the stadium so I can catch crawdads for free. Do you ever see the red ones. Every once in a while one will be bright red. That’s the color chosen by our local Crawdads.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 6:37 am

    They eat those things in Louisiana! I tried a couple, but thought they just tasted like shrimp with mud in them. I wonder why it never caught on in Appalachia with all the streams we have.
    One got me a couple of years ago whole cleaning out a ditch. I now use a rake first to pull out any rocks or critters. When it grabbed me I was honestly glad to see it was just a crawdad. Just reminds me of how interesting God’s creatures are.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Yes! My uncle used to catch them by putting his fingers between the rocks at the Prospect Park lake in Brooklyn NY years ago. It used to hurt me just watching him.

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