Big Shrimp’n: Shrimp Baiting in the Southeast

November 11, 2014



At dusk in the fall, the harbors and creeks are lined with glow sticks and navigation lights in the Carolinas and Florida. Why you ask? Welp, people are in their boats trying to get rich quick. In other words, they’re baiting the shallows for the fruit of the sea: shrimp.

Shrimp baiting is an excellent way to stock your freezer for the winter, and the season in the southeast only lasts a couple months in the fall. Consequently, you’re running out of time. All that’s required is a cast net , several PVC poles for marking your territory in the water, and a bait ball recipe that tastes better than everybody else’s.

On a good night, a single boat can catch the legal limit of roughly 30-pounds of headed shrimp. That’s right. . . 30-pounds of shrimp! Do I have your undivided attention now? If not, let’s do the math.  At $14 per pound (with tax) for local shrimp at the grocery store, that comes to $420 worth of shrimp in only a few hours. That’s enough shrimp to make you question the legality of shrimp baiting, and in fact, the practice has been outlawed in Georgia.

Nevertheless, the keys to shrimp baiting success, if you have not already guessed, are a decent casting technique and a good bait ball recipe. Practice is the only way to perfect your cast, and the same is somewhat true for the bait recipe. Simply punch “shrimp bait recipe” into your internet search engine of choice, and you’ll be presented with a multitude of interesting concoctions. More than can be listed here.

Some shrimp bait ball recipes call for fish meal and others for cat food. Most all require some sort of binding agent like clay or egg yolks, and a few diehard shrimpers will tell you they’re taking their bait ball recipe to the grave.

As for schematics,  poles are typically placed about 10 yards apart in 6-8 feet of water, and 4-5 bait balls are dropped around each pole with each bait ball about 3-4 inches in diameter. Also, it’s good practice to tie glow sticks to your poles when casting in the dark and to flatten your “bait balls” to prevent them from rolling on the bottom of the creek or river bed where you’re casting.

Lastly, if you’re lacking ideas on what to do with a freezer full of shrimp, in case you’ve forgotten, Benjamin Buford (Bubba) Blue lists a few in the movie Forest Gump. “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”



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