The process of farming and eating mudbugs

Crawfish season happens every year, from around the first of March through the beginning of summer. Many Gulf Coast residents enjoy the season with backyard boils or restaurant events, but some may not know where these tiny lobster-like creatures are raised.

The majority of mudbugs—slang for crawfish—sold in Texas come from Louisiana, said Brittney Aplin, manager of Blue Water Seafood on FM 1960, near Hwy. 290. Blue Water has its own distributer of farm-raised crawfish in Mamou, La.

Eddie Peters, general manager for Blue Water Seafood Whole Sale, said a large amount of farm-raised crawfish come from rice fields.

The process of farming crawfish is a year-round event, and Peters looks after about 3,800 acres of land filled with mudbugs. He said depending on the farmer's preference and the year's weather, the process of farming crawfish runs as follows:

Farmers plant rice crop from late spring to the beginning of summer.

Seed stock, a natural crop of crawfish, which mostly comes from the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is put into the flooded rice field mid-summer.

The field water is then drained and crawfish begin to burrow in the ground in late summer.

Rice is harvested in late summer or early fall, and at this time, crawfish have burrowed underground to begin their reproductive cycle.

After the rice has been harvested, farmers re-flood the rice field, and crawfish come out of the ground with their babies mid-fall, and the field becomes a crawfish pond—Peters said natural rain and drainage is critical for crawfish survival during this time.

Baited wire traps are placed in the field between the end of fall and mid-winter—Peters uses 10 traps per acre.

Crawfish harvest begins in November or as late as January.

Typical crawfish season occurs when they are market size—around 10 to 12 per pound—and runs from the beginning of March to late June.

A-peeling Crawfish

The Woodlands CrawPHish Festival is March 23 from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Town Green Park, located at 2099 Lake Robbins Drive. Tickets are $25 per person for ages 11 and older and $15 for ages 10 and under.

Crabby Daddy's, located at 25186 I-45, Ste. 4G, offers fresh boiled crawfish, while next door, The Woodlands Seafood Market sells it fresh by the pound. 281-296-2722.

Schilleci's New Orleans Kitchen, located at 9595 Six Pines Drive, Ste. 1120, offers several crawfish dishes with a Cajun twist. 281-419-4242.

Tailgator's Pub & Grill, located at 8000 Hwy. 242, Ste. 125, features boiled crawfish by the pound and other traditional pub fare. 936-271-4200.