To Catch A Shrimp

It’s a couple of minutes past 5:00 pm and just as I am mentally switching gears to happy hour, I get a text from Jon.  He won’t be home for a while.

To be precise, his text reads:  “Guess I misunderstood something when I heard how ‘close’ we were going to set the pots.”

The pot he was referring to is the shrimp pot our kids gave us for Christmas.  While we had become fairly proficient at catching crab in similar pots, we had always left the shrimping to the commercial guys (think Bubba Gump) and a scattering of friends that had their own shrimp pots.  Our Christmas present changed that.

While shrimp pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the one thing they all have in common is a bag in the center where the bait goes and some means for the shrimp to get into the pot to reach the bait.  Besides a general understanding that cat food serves as good bait for shrimp, the other thing we knew was that shrimp pots need to go where the shrimp are, which is usually in at least 250 feet of water.

Last week, we were docked next to a guy who, every afternoon, would head out in his dinghy with his shrimp pot.  He then would wait a couple of hours, head back out, returning daily with a bucket full of shrimp.  We told him the story about our Christmas present and that it had not yet seen the water.  He offered to show Jon the ropes.

Rigging the Shrimp Pot

The next morning, like a good fisherman, Jon was up early.  Not because one has to shrimp early in the morning, but because it turns out the pot was just the beginning of what was needed for shrimping.  He was at a local marine hardware store when they opened, buying everything else required for shrimping:  a 400 foot spool of weighted line (the length of which they were out of, so we now own 600 feet of line instead), 2 shrimp pot floats (so you don’t lose your pot), and a 16 -pound weight (so the pot sinks to where the shrimp are).  He then spent the morning measuring, cutting, splicing and tying.

He had the newly assembled contraption ready to go just in time to head out with his new mentor.  He came home that afternoon with 39 shrimp.

First Catch  Spot Prawn

The next day, we decided to try it on our own.  Which required mixing our own bait,  a concoction of wet and dry cat food combined with some “special” fish oil.  If you are imagining a foul odor, you just need to move another hundred steps beyond that and you’re getting close to the smell.

We came home that afternoon with 69 shrimp.

Today, Jon and a fellow boater (who yesterday, of course, caught his limit of 80 shrimp at a nearby spot) left about an hour ago to set the shrimp pots.

And that’s why my happy hour is getting a late start.

I think it’s worth noting here that most of the people who are bringing home shrimp are using a power “puller” to pull their pots in.  A large pot, at the end of several hundred feet of weighted line that is full of shrimp and a large weight, is heavy when being pulled up from a depth of 250’.  We don’t have that; we just have Jon and his brawn.  However, after doing this several times by hand, it’s fairly safe to say there is a power puller in our future.

Throughout my life, I have known a broad smattering of people that enjoy sport fishing.  And they all seem to share 2 common traits.  One, whatever their preferred lure/bait/process/superstition, it is always far superior to any lure/bait/process/superstition someone else may have.  And, two, they will all talk, proudly and in detail, about how much money they saved by catching their own fish, completely disregarding any expense incurred with the boat, equipment and/or bait.  Case in point, today we went out of our way to check the local fish market’s price on spot prawns, and my husband practically burst when he calculated that we had saved “about $80,” and that was just one day’s catch.

Ah, to be a fisherman’s wife.

In case you’re wondering if all the cost and effort is worth it, absolutely.  Fresh shrimp, that has been either steamed or cooked on the barbecue and then is being enjoyed a mere 2 hours after they were hauled from the sea, is one of the most decadent things I’ve had the privilege of eating.  In a mere word:  delicious.

Crab Pot Rigging

Pot Full Of Shrimp

Got One

Spot Prawns

Shrimp Appetizer

Roche Harbor Seafood Shack

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