Crayfish season begins, with warm spring boosting their size and numbers

An estimated 4 to 6 million crayfish are caught in Finland each year - but you'll need a license and permission before you can go to catch them!

File picture of cooked crayfish / Credit: iStock

Fishermen can begin catching crayfish today with the annual start of the season which continues through until the end of October.

Warm water temperatures throughout the whole summer is one of the key factors in determining whether it’s a good season or not, and this year’s warm spring with rising water temperatures mean the crayfish already had favourable growing conditions and there should be plenty to catch.

“The other thing with the length of summer is, that the juveniles hatch early. This allows also for the females maybe even to moult, which is a period in a crayfish’s life-cycle when it grows. So, the females might also have had the chance to moult before the crayfish season and they will be entering the traps” says Japo Jussila, a researcher and crayfish expert at the University of Eastern Finland.

“Some of the crayfish have been even moulting last autumn and growing larger in size, so they will be also available this year” he adds.

Fishing for crayfish 

There are two different species of crayfish found in Finnish waters: the native noble crayfish which are found in central areas and up to southern Lapland; and the North American signal crayfish which is considered an alien species, and found in larger southern lakes.

Anyone who wants to fish for crayfish needs to get a license, and permission from the owners of the lakes who sell the fishing rights.

With 10 to 20 traps, fishermen catch as many crayfish as they like.

“In case of the signal crayfish, the rules are a bit more relaxed than in case of noble crayfish which is highly vulnerable to a crayfish plague, a devastating disease that actually causes the situation of a decline in crayfish stocks in Europe” expert Japo Jussila tells News Now Finland.

The spread of the crayfish plague generally leads to the extinction of native river crab populations, so to prevent it all equipment used to catch crayfish must be disinfected, dried or frozen before moving it between different parts of the watercourse, or to another watercourse.

An estimated 4 to 6 million crayfish are caught in Finland each year.

Finnish foodie traditions

Crayfish parties are one of the traditional hallmarks of late summer in Finland.

Usually served with dill, schnapps, beer, and accompanied by plenty of boisterous singing, the boiled crayfish are enjoyed as part of a communal meal with friends and family around a table. People often wear hats and matching napkins to get into the spirit of the events.

While the crayfish parties originally came to Finland from Sweden, and were a mainstay of the Swedish-speaking population, they are now enjoyed more widely.