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Deep freeze's effect on crawfish supply lingers

Deep freeze's effect on crawfish supply lingers
Posted at 7:49 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 23:41:19-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It turns out that humans have something in common with mud bugs.

“Just like people, when it’s cold outside, the crawfish don’t want to come out,” Corpus Christi Crawfish owner Teysha Dougherty said.

Her not yet one-year-old crawfish distribution business has taken a hit thanks to February's deep freeze for several reasons that, in part, linger to this day.

In the days after the Arctic blast hit, frozen over crawfish ponds in southeast Louisiana where Dougherty sources her supply kept crawfish from moving around in search of food and therefore wandering into the traps set out to catch them.

A lower supply meant they were more expensive for her to buy then resell to Corpus Christi-area restaurants and individual customers for crawfish boils.

“It drives their prices up and it decreases the quality of the crawfish," Dougherty said.

The decrease in quality comes from that lack of eating.

Frigid temperatures sent crawfish burrowing deep into the ground and hibernating instead of developing larger, harder shells that they grow into.

Softer shells and empty stomachs mean more of them die during transport.

Those problems will linger for a little while longer.

"It’s going to take two or three weeks of really warm weather for the water to warm up and for the crawfish to get to eating more,” Dougherty said.

Despite concerns about price and quality, Dougherty has maintained her weekly trips to her supplier, bringing back 200 to 300, 30-pound sacks at a time.

It's kept her customers happy including competitive crawfish cooker Jessica Soto.

“Even after the freeze we’ve had decent sized ones surprisingly -- which we didn’t expect," Soto said. "But it turned out pretty great."

Dougherty credits being able to continue supplying crawfish to Corpus Christi on positive relationships, not only with her customers, but her supplier as well who she says was willing to continue working even in the depths of the deep freeze.

“Where a lot of farmers in Louisiana weren’t catching crawfish at all, my farmer toughed it out and went out and got us some crawfish," Dougherty said.