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Ever See a Cat Fish?
Crawfish and Cats

by N. Ray Maxie
N. Ray Maxie

You may have heard this corny little joke. I remember my Dad telling it to me as a barefoot country kid in NE Texas. It goes like this: "Did you ever see a cat fish?" Why, of course Dad, I have seen a catfish! I saw a big catfish my Uncle Frank Fed caught down on Cypress Bayou. Dad's reply was, "Then since you have seen a cat fish, how did he hold his pole?" Well, he got me on that one!

Country humor in deed, it was. But it keenly brings to mind my problem and perhaps yours, right here today; right out in our front yard, and back yard, too. That pesky, obnoxious little creep called a crawfish. Perhaps known by some of us as a craw-dad, mud-bug or cray-fish. By whatever name you call that pest, those critters cause me a problem and are a genuine nuisance. They really like the tight clay-base soil found around Conroe and Montgomery County. You never see them in sandy loamy soil.

While the ground is wet, which is what they like, they will push up those awful muddy little mounds all over the yard. If you stumble over or step on one while it is wet and muddy, you will then have your shoes to clean. Later on, during a dry spell, those little mounds are sticking up everywhere. They become sun baked like a West Texas mud brick, making a hard glob of dirt to stumble over. You may even sprain your ankle or break a leg if you are not careful.

Or while doing yard work, you then hit those crusty mounds with the lawn mower and it splatters dirt and dust everywhere. Not to mention damage to your mower engine or blade and having to resharpen it frequently. Also, I have noticed more and more people wearing the little white nose and mouth air filters while mowing. And wisely so! A good idea!

I know! I know! All you folk that hire a professional yard service to meticulously maintain your lavishly manicured lawns just don't have to experience all these problems. You may never know just what you miss. Think of the exercise, the stimulation, therapy and sheer pleasure of working the soil. Oh! The joys of it all!

Rest assured your yard boy knows all the problems caused by these subterranean, backward crawling, crustaceans that resemble a miniature lobster. They are forever what are known to me as "a thorn in the flesh." I could easily live without.

We experience plenty these things every year, but this year crawfish seem to be much more prolific than previous years. Perhaps because we have had some long rainy, wet spells that make a very favorable environment for them to multiply.

I know there are a lot of people around that just love to eat crawfish and would drive many miles to get a mess of them. Some of my relatives in Louisiana are among those. For years and years I think they survived off crawfish pie, black eyed peas and fried corn pone. Now days we find this highly prized delicacy alive and squirming in super market tubs everywhere. There is a big demand for them. Crawfish festivals too, are a big event all over. Those are very popular and great fundraisers for many local economies.

Seldom have I ever eaten ANY crawfish, especially the whole, unaltered variety. I just can't develop the first requirement, a solid, unsqueamish stomach. I will eat the crawfish tails separated and prepared like shrimp tails, boiled or usually battered and deep-fried. Even then, I do prefer that they are cultivated and farm raised, not from my back yard or some roadside ditch. I do believe that most crawfish we see these days are farm raised and "civilized."

My calico cat and other cats in our neighborhood seem to be, at least, a partial solution to the crawfish problem. I am happy about the service they perform.

Almost every morning as I walk out my driveway to pick up the morning newspaper, I can see several little crawfish heads along the edge of the driveway. During the night, cats have caught and eaten all but the crawfish heads. Being the most crusted shell part they won’t eat, it is left on the driveway.

I would love to witness a cat grabbing the crawfish from the hole and eating it. But I never have seen that happen. Cats "fish" late at night while sitting quietly near the crawfish hole waiting for that mudbug to surface. When it does, they quickly grab it and have fresh fish for a midnight snack.

Some folk say mothballs will help in getting rid of crawfish. They say just drop one in the open hole and that should knock him out. But I'm not so sure. I've tried it several times and I really can't miss a one of those “suckers” out there. Maybe two or three others come back and resurface for every one you kill. But I surely hope not. “What a nuisance!”

Every time I see a crawfish “skull” on our driveway, I just say praise God there is one less dirt mound (crawfish hill) in my yard I will not have to continually deal with.

Best of all though, they are helping feed the cats. That is, the cats that are energetic and ambitious enough to get off their “duff” and fish for a meal.

I think I'll keep my calico cat. She is really a good angler and I may get two or three more just like her.

Now tell me, have you ever seen a cat fish?

© N. Ray Maxie
"Ramblin' Ray" March 3, 2008 Column
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