It's technically not too early to start thinking about an entire summer of eating delicious crawfish and drinking beer, but most of Dallas' seafood restaurants have yet to put freshly-boiled bugs on their menu. Crawfish season's start date is a little fluid, occurring usually between late February and early March, and is mostly dependent on climate factors like temperature and rainfall.
2014 was a pretty terrible year for crawfish farmers and the people who enjoy eating them. As we reported last June, an uncharacteristically cold winter caused crawfish farmers to close up shop after just a few short months of mediocre catches. This year, though, farmers are much more optimistic about the crawfish crops.
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According to a report by Biloxi, Mississippi's WLOX, seafood restaurants in the area have been able to offer crawfish locally since January thanks to mild winter temperatures. An early chill reduces both the numbers and size of crawfish, which results in higher prices and more mediocre bugs. Deli owner Sean Desporte told WLOX that all signs from his vendors are pointing to a good year. "They're saying as long as we don't have a really cold winter that crawfish season is going to be really good," said Desporte. "They're saying the prices are going to drop. The season looks a lot better than last year."
In Dallas, TJ's Seafood owner Jon Alexis is equally optimistic. This weekend is the first of the year that TJ's will sell crawfish, though, so Alexis is sort of waiting to see the proof in the pudding. "Crawfish is like a high school economics supply and demand graph, with the x-axis and y-axis," said Alexis when reached by email. "Good weather means plentiful crawfish, bigger sizes, and lower prices. Bad weather means few crawfish, high prices, and small sizes because beggars can't be choosy."
But Alexis still maintains some healthy caution about what this year's yield will look like, especially when it comes to price and size. "All indicators point to them being great size this year, but it's all speculative," he says. "If we have no more cold snaps and it's not too rainy but not too dry, it will be a great year. Having said that, a few years ago it snowed in Dallas on Valentine's week and set the crawfish season back. So you never know."
We still have a few weeks, or maybe even months, to see how exactly the crawfish season pans out, but it's still good to finally hear good news in an industry that's been pretty hard-hit by erratic weather patterns. Most importantly, it means that you won't be looking at paying upwards of six bucks per pound for crawfish at your favorite joint.