I have been going to Leech Lake in northern Minnesota my entire life. My grandparents had cabins next door to each other and that is where my Mom and Dad met. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For almost as long I have seen and caught crayfish up there. When I was little we would swim in the shallow rocky areas out in front of the cabin and catch them and put them in buckets. I would always ask if somebody would cook them for me and it never happened. Every year I go up there I tell myself I am going to catch a bunch and cook them up. Several years ago I bought a crayfish trap with the intentions of catching them and cooking them and then I forgot the trap at home or I lost it in a move. For one reason or another I just couldn't seem to make it happen. This year, I made it happen.
I remembered to bring the trap with me and was able to set it out for a couple days in a row and fill a cooler with rusty crayfish. The first day I got there I didn't have anything to bait the trap with so I used a hotdog. The hotdog brought in a few crayfish and I put them on ice to purge them. Then I caught a few fish and had some fish carcasses to use as bait and over night filled my little crayfish pot. the pot was so full the crayfish were hanging on the outside trying to get to the fish carcass. I left it out one more night and was shocked and horrified to find a small mink in my trap. The poor little guy must have seen all the crayfish and thought he was in for an easy meal but got stuck inside the trap and never made it out. After that I had filled my cooler with crayfish and figured it was time to cook.
I made a very simple boiling liquid consisting of lemon, garlic, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper. it didn't take long and the first batch was all done. I serve it up with a little drawn butter and got to picking. I had enough crayfish that I was able to recruit my sister and her husband to help and we ate some tail meat and saved up a bunch to use later. The meat was sweet and tender and I am still kicking myself that I hadn't done this before. Next year when I head up there I am bring more traps and I am going to catch as many of those little buggers as I can.
Leech Lake Crayfish Boil
2 gallons of water
1/2 cup of salt
5 bay leaves
2 lemons cut in half
1 onions roughly chopped
1 head of garlic
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 can of Hard cider
Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes and then start adding the crayfish in batches, cooking for about 5 minutes each batch. Enjoy your crayfish with a cold beer and some melted butter.