Shrimp season is one of the most anticipated opening days of the year along the coast, and throughout the 90-day season, from noon on Sept. 12 until noon on Nov. 11, many outdoorsmen shrimp all along the coast. Some of the consistently successful ones have found a few secrets to success that help them catch limits even when others struggle to catch a few.
Chuck Robinson of Awendaw targets shrimp throughout the season and has fine-tuned his expertise.
“I have learned through experience some shrimp-catching techniques to ensure I stack the odds in my favor as much as possible,” Robinson said. “The techniques are not difficult but they are significant in terms of consistently catching lots of shrimp.”
Here are Robinson’s six secrets to success.
- “I make bait balls at home before going, so when I get on the water, I am ready to find shrimp. I don’t make just barely enough bait balls, I make plenty, so running out is not an issue.
- “Make the bait balls in a flatter, pancake style rather than round. When the tide is really rolling, a round baitball can move, but a flat one is more prone to stay where you place it. If a round baitball moves, you can make a good cast to the pole, but the shrimp won’t be there, they’ll be with the bait ball. It only has to move a little to cause a big miss.
- “Test the water before committing to a place. Shrimp move a lot, and even if I caught them in a place the day before, I will stick one or two poles, place one bait ball on each and wait a few minutes before making a test cast or two. If I like what I catch, I stick the other poles and start hauling in shrimp.
- “Know the tide movement; it is a key to shrimping and to where you need set up. When you set your poles, you must know if the tide is rising or falling so the poles are neither dry at low tide nor completely covered with water at high tide. This is a common mistake by many new shrimpers and results in lost time and occasionally lost tagged poles because a strong tidal current can result in an inundated pole breaking loose and drifting away.
- Gauge wind and tide in combination for best pole-setting position and boat operation. The tide is often stronger, but on windy days, the wind will influence the best way to set the poles. The key is to use the tide and wind so you have boat control and the right wind for throwing the net. Set the poles in a line that enables you to cast effectively, while allowing for boat control to keep prop wash off the bait. Prop wash hastens disintegration of the bait and runs the shrimp off. Put the bait in a position where the wind or current, whichever is stronger, pushes the boat away from the pole after the net is cast.
- “Shrimping is best on a moving tide and slowest on the slack water time between tides. Some places are best on rising tides, others on a dropping tide, but having moving water in one direction or the other is essential.”