No bait required

Amy Holleman loves catching shrimp in deep holes this month. (Picture by Brian Cope)

Deep-hole shrimping picks up in May

South Carolina’s shrimp baiting season won’t open for several more months, but May 1 is a big day for sportsmen who like to catch them without bait.

Known as deep-hole shrimping, the process of cast netting for shrimp, usually in areas with deep holes, is regulated by SCDNR as “taking shrimp without bait.” And from May 1 through Dec. 15, it’s legal to keep 48 quarts whole (29 quarts headed), per boat.

Amy Holleman grew up in the lowcountry, and lives in Florida now. But she gets the itch to come back home this time of year to throw her cast net in search of “red legs.”

“It’s more popular later in the year, but this is a great month to go deep hole shrimping. It’s warm enough to enjoy a day on the boat, and you can find shrimp in the deepest holes in many small creeks along the Folly, Ashley, and Cooper rivers, and in Charleston Harbor,” she said.

Another detail makes May one of her favorite months for deep hole shrimping.

“Later in the year, you have more jellyfish to deal with. And when you’re pulling up a net from a deep hole, and jellyfish are in the net, it can lead to a painful trip,” she said.

Finding them

With today’s high-tech electronics, it’s not difficult to find the shrimp. But having even an older, standard depthfinder can pay off.

“Likely spots are where a smaller creek empties into the main river or waterway,” said Holleman. “Check your depthfinder and find the deepest hole there. You’ll see quick changes from depths like 15 feet to 35 feet to 55 feet. That deep hole is typically where you’ll find the shrimp stacked up.

“And using a depthfinder cuts down on a lot of wasted time. Just mark the deepest holes and you can keep coming back to them easily.”

Many folks wait until the fall, when shrimp baiting season opens to try their hand at catching shrimp. But Holleman sticks with deep holing even then.

“Shrimp baiting requires all the poles, as well as the bait. When deep hole shrimping, all you need is the right net and a lot of energy to toss it and pull it back up,” she said.

About Brian Cope 2762 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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