In placing the crawfish second in value as a bait, I do so because it is equally effective in swift streams and in placid lakes over almost the entire continent of North America. Indeed wherever bass abide, a live, medium-sized, light brown crawfish is resistless in any condition of weather or season. This fresh-water crustacean is very prolific in all brooks and streams of a low temperature, and frequently in lakes. Its habit is mostly nocturnal, and it burrows holes in the pebbly sand as a protection from its enemies. Its abode can easily be identified by the little mound of fresh sand beside its hole, and if we are quick in our movements we can scrape them out a few inches down, wait a few minutes for the water to run clear and capture them. It requires practice to do it with success, for they are nimbleness personified, running equally fast backward or forward. Indeed, their capture, like any other bait, is quite a difficult undertaking, filling up the off days or early hours when bass are not in a biting humor.
While the crawfish is an expert swimmer, it rarely leaves the bottom to swim in mid-water or near the surface, but crawls slowly in search of food among the stones and sand. It feeds mostly on small fish, dead or alive, and, like marine crustaceans, is very pugnacious, with frequent combats among its own kind or with other creatures it happens to meet. It is rarely seen by day, and little is really known of its natural habits except in confinement. As a bait, its best qualities are the lively kicking movement and hardihood after being hooked, and the prolonged time it takes while swimming downward from the surface after the cast. Bass will dash after it on its journey down, and it is generally perfectly aware of them, so, on reaching the bottom, it will instantly crawl under a stone out of reach. The amateur soon learns that it is best to keep this nimble bait swimming free from the bottom. It swims along entirely with its tail, the numerous legs being used only to balance the body, and it is for that reason I have, after many trials, succeeded in making the artificial with a disjointed tail to move up and down from the body, giving a lifelike appearance to the lure if played properly in working the angler's rod-tip. In its natural environment the crawfish grows rapidly, casting its shell several times in one season. When very young, it is pale yellow in color, growing a darker brown with age. For my own part I prefer this bait to be light cinnamon color, not over two inches long with the tail stretched. Many anglers consider a four-inch dark colored crawfish is most effective in either lake or stream.