South Carolina’s 2013 shrimp-baiting season will open at noon on Friday, Sept. 13, with biologists expecting a fairly good season.
Recreational shrimpers who purchase a shrimp-baiting license can legally cast their nets for shrimp over bait from noon on Sept. 13 through noon on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The license costs $25. The daily catch limit is 48 quarts of shrimp, heads-on, or 29 quarts, heads-off. Each boat is limited to a set of 10 poles, and nets can not have mesh smaller than one-half inch square or one inch stretched.
SCDNR biologists believe that mild weather last winter allowed good numbers of overwintering white shrimp to spawn in the spring, producing at least average numbers of shrimp for fall harvest. They fear, however, that heavy rainfall and runoff may have washed smaller shrimp into some coastal areas.
Catches of shrimp peaked at 3.6 million pounds in 1997, but surveys indicate that total catches have been less than a million pounds in recent seasons. The reason for the decline: fewer licenses being purchased and fewer trips being taken. SCDNR’s surveys indicate that the average catch per trip of 20 to 22 quarts has been stable since 2001.
Recent sampling by SCDNR indicates fair numbers of shrimp along the southern coast and average quantities around Charleston, but overall size is smaller than usual. Areas around Port Royal and St. Helena sounds produced the largest shrimp. Larry DeLancey, supervisor of SCDNR’s Crustacean Monitoring Program, advised shrimpers to target lower areas in the estuaries to avoid smaller shrimp.
Shrimp baiters are not allowed to have bait or poles in a boat that is in the water before noon on Sept. 13.