BRANCH, La. (WGNO) - How do you like your crawfish served? Etouffee? Napoleon? Monica? However you prefer your mudbugs, by the time they make it to your mouth, they’ve been on quite a journey.
At Fruge Aquafarms in Branch, Louisiana, they know a thing or two about crawfish!
“We started Fruge Crawfish, my brother and I when we were in college to make a little bit of spending money. We started with a little crawfish pond, and we’ve been at it about 30 years,” says Mark Fruge.
Nowadays, the Fruge brothers and their team process between 15 and 20 thousand pounds of mudbugs every day.
Mark Fruge took us out to one of their many sprawling crawfish ponds. The ponds are actually rice fields that double as crawfish habitats. The farm produces rice as well, and the fields are re-flooded after the rice harvest.
Amphibious boats with big metal wheels are used to move from trap to trap. Traps are emptied and reset daily: crawfish go into the boat, and fresh fish parts go into the traps. That’s right. Crawfish are actually caught with fish.
Fish parts are especially useful during the early part of the season when the water is cold.
Once they’re back at the main farm building, the critters are weighed, washed and prepped for shipping. The machine used to wash and repackage some of the crawfish was originally built to sack vegetables such as potatoes and onions.
Another fun fact: Not all mudbugs are red. In fact, the Fruges say they’ve seen blue, green, white and black crawfish.
Fruge Aquafarms runs a shipping site, cajuncrawfish.com, that makes it possible to have a crawfish boil anywhere in the continental United States, with only 24 hours’ notice.
They ship live crawfish and all the fixings, including pot, burner and paddle. And here's some good news: an early Easter means lower prices are coming soon because the Easter Bunny generally leaves lower prices behind.