Cooler weather slows down mudbug season


Below-freezing temperatures in January have made crawfish scarcer, keeping prices higher, Coast seafood shop owners say.

“It’s the abnormal temperatures; the ponds are producing about half of what they should be. We had been expecting a great season due to the water in the spillway and ponds,” Todd Rosetti of Quality Seafood in Biloxi said.

Those ponds lie near the Louisiana-Texas state line and took a hard hit in January.

“Most of ours come from the Atchafalaya Basin and ponds west of Baton Rouge, near the Texas-Louisiana line,” Rosetti said.

That’s also the approximate area where Desporte and Sons in Biloxi gets its crawfish, Sean Desporte said.

“The western side of Louisiana, near Henderson, and southwest Louisiana. They all had some tough weather,” he said. “Ponds iced over, and it was just too cold for them.”

In some cases, ponds were frozen over for a couple of days at a time, Rosetti said.

On Friday afternoon both Desporte and Sons and Quality Seafood were selling live crawfish at $2.79 a pound. Rosetti said that price is about 75 cents higher than this time last year at Quality; Desporte said live crawfish would usually sell for $1.79 to $1.99 a pound at his store.

Traps are set around Thanksgiving, and the mudbug season can last through July or even into mid-August.

The season was looking better in January, “then the weather happened,” Rosetti said. About 100 sacks per dock is an average daily harvest in a regular season, but lately “six sacks a day is a good daily average.”

One sack weighs about 35 pounds, depending on the time in the season — 31 pounds early to 48 pounds later.

With temperatures on the uptick, more crawfish should be thriving.

“We think it’ll get better in the next two to three weeks,” Desporte said. “Prices are still high now, but it takes about two or three weeks to straighten up. The water temperatures are much better now.

“Last Saturday I ordered 40 sacks, and they brought me 15. Now the catch is starting to get better — I’m starting to get what I need, but the price is still high.”

An increased demand for crawfish in more far-flung areas is also affecting the amount of mudbugs local businesses can get, Rosetti said.

“It used to be Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama” where deliveries were made, he said.

“Now, you have into Florida, the Houston and Dallas areas, and even some areas in Arkansas,” he said. “More people are getting into the business, and they’re having to divide among the dealers. That tends to keep the price up, too.” 


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