Do Bass Like Crawfish Or Not?

There is a ton of debate in the bass fishing community about a certain subject. Do bass like crawfish? While I can confidently say a resounding yes, the question has confused me for a long time. There is just something about crawfish that makes them a more complicated meal to swallow than say a shad or bluegill.

I have seen many times where bass will spit out a live crawfish multiple times before finally ignoring or committing to a feeding. This seems to happen more often if both of the claws are intact. Largemouth doesn’t seem to eat these creatures as easily as smallmouth so why bother imitating it with your lure? This post is going to be an explanation of why I believe that bass love consuming them.

First Off, Do Bass Eat Them?

1. Bass Are Naturally Opportunistic

First off, the word like is a relative term. What a fish may eat on a whim when it’s hungry doesn’t always mean that it enjoys the food it finds. For instance, the black bass family normally eats whatever they can to survive whether it be a fish, a lizard, a mouse, or a gopher. Much the same way you wouldn’t mind a distasteful meal on a truly empty stomach, the same can be said for fish. When the opportunity presents itself, bass are opportunistic. Every member of the black bass family eats first and asks questions later.

2. A Crawfish Is A Big Meal

Also, a crawfish is a big meal. That is great if you are a big bass with little or no baitfish around. Little bass generally stays away from mudbugs because they risk not being able to swallow them properly. I think the smaller fish would eat more of them if they had the ability. On occasion, you will find juvenile bass munching on small crayfish in certain bodies of water. While growing fish may prefer to eat other foods, sometimes the crayfish is all they can catch. Also, some fish may not be strong enough to fully hunt. This is when a fish can bite off a claw.

3. They Are A Natural Part Of The Diet

Okay, yabbies are not as natural to the diet of bass as shad or sunfish but they still provide a sustainable and nutrient-rich food supply to the population, especially in winter.  They are a favorite of smallmouth and spotted bass and both of these like to make sushi out of crayfish whenever they get the chance. It’s fair to say that these particular basses absolutely love crawfish. As for the largemouth, regular feedings are more regularly performed by bigger fish. Some of the best largemouth bass lures are crayfish patterns.

What Is A Likable Meal To A Bass?

1. Easy To Catch

The less energy a fish has to expend to fill its belly, the better. Many fish have the habit of ambushing fragile baitfish like shad or herring because they don’t swim nearly as fast and they are usually balled up tightly in schools. The more calories that the fish can stretch while hunting usually determine how efficient they are at it. Crayfish are usually much harder to catch because of their inclination to live on the bottom between the rocks.

2. Easy To Swallow

Say what you will but whatever slides down easiest is what you want to eat. Mudbugs are not easy to swallow when their shells are hard. It’s like swallowing a rock. Because of this, baitfish and other chewy offerings are hunted more frequently by predators. Soft and fragile baitfish like shad, minnows, and herring are first on the menu while spiny dorsal fin species like bluegill are next in line. Largemouth like to wait until the shells get soft before chowing down.

3. Abundant And Plentiful

Abundance is the key to life in the wild. A sustainable population of fish requires an even more sustainable population of bait. This is where the crayfish excel because they reproduce at a very rapid rate. Sometimes, they can even become invasive to an environment because of this. This fact alone may be reason enough why they are a popular food source for many species of fish. Breeding female crawdads can lay as many as 650 eggs at a time.

Person holding a bass fish by the lower lip over water.

Do Bass Like Crawfish?

1. Spotted Bass And Smallmouth Bass Love Them

The question has yet to be answered. Do bass like crayfish or not? Well, I think this depends on the species of bass. Smallmouth naturally eats crayfish in the north and have developed a special and succulent taste for these crustaceans over many decades. Spotted bass has also developed a taste for them albeit a slightly less pronounced one. The question is easy to answer for these two species. Yes, yes, and yes. They enjoy them so much that they prefer them to fish in many cases.

2. Largemouth Only Like Them Sometimes

Because the largemouth has more diverse food preferences and much more natural prey that it can choose from, they prefer to get whatever fills them up the quickest for the least amount of work. Not casting shade over the largemouth but they are a little pickier when it comes to food selection simply because they have more to choose from. Smallmouth can choose fish or crayfish. Largemouth can opt for fish, snakes, lizards, birds, frogs, insects, crayfish, and even rats or mice. In other words, there are a lot of softer and squishier options that don’t pose a risk of pinching an eye out when they go to take a bite.

3. Other Black Bass Species Like Them Too

Many species of bass like the shoal bass and Guadalupe bass are also occasional consumers of crayfish. Many times though, they grab them, pick them up, spit them out, and repeat. This means that these fish are trying to precisely place the hard-shelled crustacean and eat the tail first. They prefer not to take a chance with the claws on the end. Smallmouth and spotted bass will attack them so hard that the claws rip off. Most other species don’t do this though. The main thing to remember is that you can catch all species of this fish family using a live crawdad or a lure.


The conclusion is this. Bass like crawfish when the shells are hard but this turns to love during the molting stage. It depends on the season. The question is why though. They are harder to catch than baitfish, harder to swallow, pose an injury risk, and usually only exist in certain waters. Everything is stacked against liking the crayfish so why do they even bother? The answer is simple. They make a great food source when baitfish is not readily available, there is plenty of them to go around, and they are packed with everything bass need for survival.

Although I think fish enjoy the meal going down, they will eat them regardless because they provide extra nutrients to the fish that have been built up in their shells that the pregnant moms will need to lay strong eggs. Having said that, it is not hard to see why crayfish are a popular bait choice for many fish. What has been your experience with catching bass with crawfish? Let us know in the comments!


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