Rusty crabs are plentiful in Pike Lake.
And that is not good.
The unwanted invasive crustaceans are widespread in a number of Cook County lakes, with the clear waters of Pike Lake being zero in both abundance and impact on a local body of water. Rust shrimp eat fish eggs, for example, which is not well received by zander anglers.
As undesirable as rusty crayfish are, two Cook County residents decided to use this knowledge and turn it into a business. Come in, the crawdaddies.
Yusef Orest and Garrett Lima started catching rust crabs in steel traps in Cook County earlier this summer. More recently, they’ve partnered with the Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District and its Aquatic Invasive Species Unit to expand the venture.
The Crawdadddies, as their business is known, are now catching on a commercial scale. They’ve already caught hundreds of pounds of the invasive crayfish this year, Lima said.
“I think our last recorded catch was about 68 pounds,” Lima said. “I think we’re probably over £300 for the year.”
Slowing the spread of rust crabs in Pike Lake or any body of water where they occur is no easy task. However, Orestes said the crawdaddies were optimistic that catching and eventually selling a locally sourced protein to members of the community would make an impact.
“If you can’t beat them, you have to eat them,” Orestes said of the local crustaceans.
WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs recently joined the Crawdaddies on a beautiful August evening to set cancer traps at Pike Lake. He shares a full account in the audio below.