Puget Sound boaters with a shellfish licenses get a rare opportunity in May: A couple chances to fish for shrimp.
A spot shrimp season opens Saturday and again on May 15, providing licensees the opportunity to keep as many as 80 shrimp each day.
For boaters in Marine Areas 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner and Everett), the window on both days is from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. At Marine Area 9 (Edmonds, Port Townsend Bay and Admiralty Inlet), the window on both days is from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. To check on other marine areas, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfishing-regulations/shrimp.
If you’re new to shrimping, Jerry Solie of Everett, who has fished for prawns for many years, offered some advice to help you avoid what he said are three common mistakes.
First, people don’t put enough weight on their shrimp pots to keep them from being swept away by big tides.
He generally adds sections of chain or other weights to his pots to ensure they don’t move significant distances from the areas where they were placed.
The second common mistake, Solie said, is that shrimpers, who sometimes have to go quite deep to find prawns, don’t attach enough rope to their pots. “I’ve lost a few pots,” he said. “A lot of pots get dropped into water that’s too deep.”
He said he will often fish for prawns at 250 to 350 feet, so he typically attaches 400 feet of line to his pots. Solie said he always uses a permanent marker to write the length of the rope on the floats affixed to each pot to ensure he doesn’t go too deep.
A third common mistake, Solie said, is not being able to find where you put the pot when you come back to check it. That’s less common these days with global positioning systems that return boaters to the exact spot where they placed their pots.
But boaters without a GPS system should line pot placement up with spots on shore to help them find them during periods of heavy chop in the waves.
Solie has an electronic pot puller that helps him haul in the ropes to examine his catch. “I used to do it by hand,” he said. “But now I’m glad I have one.”
He said he typically checks his pots after about an hour to ensure they’re in a good spot. “You can make one pull and then you’re all done,” he said of the 80 shrimp limit.
If one pot is doing well, he might move the other one close by. If neither holds shrimp, he moves them both.
“If you’re not catching shrimp, you’ve gotta move,” Solie said.
He typically looks for shrimping spots off Hat or Camano islands.
In addition to his two pots, Solie usually takes along a bucket to hold his shrimp as he counts them and a cooler with ice to keep them chilled.
Solie said there are a lot of commercial baits available, but he typically keeps fish heads and entrails from his salmon catches and freezes them to use as bait for shrimp and crab.