Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baiting time

Laying out the poles for shrimp baiting
It's shrimp baiting season in this state.  This means that it's crazy on the water with lots of people out in boats casting nets over bait for shrimp.

It seems that every person is out in a boat with their cast net.  The technique is pretty simple.  There are 10 long poles that are placed near high tide.  The long poles are used to mark a specific location, and then bait is thrown in the water near the pole. After several minutes the cast net is thrown as close to the bait as possible and the shrimp are caught in the net. Bait is generally put down as the tide ebbs and water runs out of the marsh grass.

Showing how a perfect cast looks. 
The bait balls can be made of just about anything a shrimp will eat. The most common bait is a mixture of powdered clay and ground menhaden. The clay acts as a binding agent so that the bait balls stay together for several casts. This is stinky work, making the bait balls. But the shrimp appear to love it.

We enjoy going out and catching enough shrimp to fill our freezer.  Sometimes we catch about 20 pounds in a night.  The allowable limit is enough shrimp with their heads still attached to fill a 48-quart cooler per day, or 29 quarts without heads. That seems like a huge number.  And when you consider that people go night after night and catch this amount,  you begin to wonder what they do with the shrimp.  Some probably sell their shrimp which is against the law. Others share their catch with family and friends or they eat shrimp for every meal.

The instate license to bait is pretty cheap. So there will be a lot of people on the water here at night.  In fact, it will be hard to find a quiet spot to moor the boat due to all the activity.

I remember an analogy one of my friends made about shrimp baiting and casting.  He said that when there are problems in life that appear unmanageable, he throws out a spiritual cast net to surround the problem and lets God pull in the net. It's a great vision and especially appropriate considering the activity on the waterways.


  1. Loved your friend's comment - I'm going to try to remember that.
    thanks, Syd.

  2. I love the vision of the spiritual cast net!

    I don't think shrimp fishing is a big tradition here on the west coast of Canada. As an aside, our salmon, especially sockeye, owes its ruby red flesh to eating shrimp. The flesh of farmed salmon is trout-white, so they are fed dyed pellets to mimic the red colour.

  3. nice great analogy, better a wide cast net than just our fishing line, hoping to get what we want out of it.

  4. Throwing a cast net is an art. To throw it properly, at least.
    You may read anything in to that you want. Or nothing.
    I hope you filled your freezer.

  5. never heard of cast shrimping, in washington state my grandfather built iron shrimp traps with an unusual design, it was one that was coveted by many shrimpers. in washington state we were not allowed so many shrimp, unless we were native american.
    but gramp put cans of 'puss'n'boots' cat food in the cages and set them in the water, they shrimped of the puget sound in the hood canal. they would catch way over their legal limit and bring them home to cook. we loved the shrimp, but i couldn't tell you how he made those cages. they were like a hexagon shape. but the only nets that were used were for fishing.

  6. One of the reasons I love your blog is that you always show me a side of life that I will never experience in good old blighty and that gives me the chance to show off to friends about the things I know. Now when we next have a chineses meal I will be able to say, you know its shrimp season!!!

  7. The secret being:letting God pull in the net. Great analogy. Hope you have fun while shrimping....

  8. That sounds fun. I love the analogy.

  9. Love that quote at the end. Thanks Syd

  10. I appreciate analogies that involve higher power and nets. When I first thoroughly took step 3, it felt as though I were being pulled in by a net.

  11. I have cast that spiritual net and I'm letting God do the net pulling. It can be a little scary, but it's the only thing I know that has the power to help.


  12. I love shrimp! I must come down there during this season. Perhaps I might qualify enough as a friend that you might share some of your catch with me, so as not to break any laws or behave improperly :-)

  13. At one time I lived in Victoria, British Columbia. We used to go to an old Gov't. wharf In Sydney and drop an old bicycle rim with a burlap sack covering the hole where the spokes used to be. A fish head or some such was attached to the burlap and the unit was dropped into the water by four lines attached to the unit.

    After a while the unit was raised and the shrimp were dumped into a bucket of sea water. This was repeated until there was enough shrimp to feed all who were present. The shrimp were then boiled in sea water and served up with home made french fried potatoes. Delicious.

    Thanks for the memory Syd.


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