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Cenla crawfish forecast

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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB News Channel 5)- For many here in Cenla Ash Wednesday means skipping out on the bacon, hamburgers, and steaks and giving up meat for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Fridays are the exception however- when some Catholics opt to enjoy a lunch of seafood. But how has the cold weather affected this year's crawfish crop? News Channel 5's Rachael Penton takes a look.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent which is a time of sacrifice for Catholics.

"So to make room in our hearts and lives for the Lord so we give something up to focus more on our spiritual relationship with God," says Father Dan O'Connor, of Prompt Succor School.   

Tradition calls for Catholics to abstain from eating meat during Lent, but there are a few exceptions.

"Seafood is not part of that so a lot of people on Friday's they do eat fish and they do eat crawfish," says Jo Tassin, Principal of Prompt Succor School.

Coincidentally, crawfish season here in Cenla usually arrives around the beginning of Lent. The Crawfish Port in Alexandria says that they're seeing decent sizes so far this year, but across the state it's been a slow start because of the cold winter.

"It takes awhile to warm up a big body of water even though the sun might be 70 degrees people are saying let's go get crawfish but the catch of the water is still cool," says Crawfish Port manager Mike Brouillette.

When the water is cold, the crawfish enter a semi-dormant state. They don't eat much, so they don't grow much and they don't find their way to the traps as easily. This means a smaller and more expensive catch.

"That's what we're all waiting for is the water to get warm so the crawfish can be more mobile, smell the bait in the traps, and to have abundant crawfish," adds Brouillette.

"When the waters around Louisiana warm up the prices for these little guys are anticipated to drop."

And it's a good thing- because Fridays during Lent at the Crawfish Port can get hectic.

"People come in droves to get their boiled crawfish."

But Catholic or not, crawfish season has arrived and it's a tradition for just about everyone here in Cenla.

"People get together. They buy live crawfish. They do boils at their homes and it's just a family event," says Brouillette.

There are more than 1,600 farmers in the state that harvest crawfish, which adds up to a big profit for Louisiana farmers. Most crawfish are harvested between December and June but March, April and May are the peak months in Louisiana.

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