Shrimp science: native shrimp rules!

Native shrimp, according to guide Jot Owens, are much preferred by black drum and red drum than store-bought, imported farm-raised shrimp.

From Bubba’s shrimp rant on the famous blockbuster movie, Forest Gump, without a doubt, there are endless ways to prepare shrimp for the dinner table.

Both black and red drum also have a special love for these creatures and will rarely refuse one, even with part of a steel hook sticking out the side. However, all shrimp are not created equal, and certain species and methods presented will affect the bite.

North Carolina has three main types of shrimp: pink, white and brown. White shrimp spend most of their time in the ocean and end up on the loading dock and at seafood markets. Pink and brown shrimp live in the estuaries, sometimes deep in shallow marshes.

Shrimp is the most popular seafood item in the United States and one of the highest demanded in the world. But wild-caught varieties are losing ground to farm-raised varieties from massive shrimp farms in Southeast Asia. While they look the same and taste similar to the human palate, the native variety caught in local waters are preferred by native fishes.

Capt. Jot Owens prefers to use native shrimp over the imported, farm-raised shrimp.

“Never use the farmed-raised shrimp. When compared side by side on the hook, the local, natural shrimp are much better and will get hit 10-to-1 over farm-raised shrimp,” Owens said. “The difference is unbelievable.”

Owens catches or buys in bulk native white shrimp and freezes them for his winter fishing trips. He removes the head, but leaves the shell intact for the freezer trip. However, he removes the shell before putting on the hook.

“A naked shrimp is much better than a shrimp with the head or the shell attached,” he said.

About Jeff Burleson 1312 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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