How To Catch Shrimp
How to catch shrimp always seems to cross the minds of anglers. Shrimping was not taken serious until 2010 when Capt. Lee Noga proved this sport took some skill with light deployment. It was no longer considered a sport of luck that only “old” people did. The sport has evolved since the Academy of Shrimping opened their doors in 2010 providing free resources for to educate anglers on the tips and tricks for success. How and where to catch shrimp is no longer a guarded secret and mystery.
Recommendation – How To Catch Shrimp? Join the “Academy Of Shrimping”™ on Facebook, education and current intel and reports. Click here to join Facebook group. Go to top of this menu and click menu tab and watch 2.5 hours of teaching videos.
Breaking News – Capt Lee Noga invented and released the next generation fishing & shrimping light, “MacDaddy Smart Light™” fall 2016. Factory built and the most technological advanced submersible fishing & shrimping light on the market. Multiple patents pending. Click Here To Read More. This is the most technically advanced light giving you every advantage to catch shrimp.
In Central Florida we have both a summer and a winter shrimping season. Who does not want to catch shrimp when you can fill a dedicated freezer full?
The summer season starts in Daytona Beach, Florida end of June and lasts until September. Northern Florida to include St. Augustine, Palatla, Walatka and Jacksonville chase the white shrimp from July/August – November/December. The white shrimp can be caught during the day and at night if you use a light to attract them. In some areas, they bait the water with feed kibble to attract the shrimp to a hole. You need a saltwater license. We cover this in another section of this website under Summer Shrimping.
The winter season for Central Florida start to catch shrimp in November (size are ultra small) and we do not get serious about chasing them until late December-Mid January. March thru May is the strongest part of the season in New Smyrna Beach to Titusville. Melbourne turns on over the summer and ends in the fall. These are the brown and pink specie that are nocturnal and hate the light. You need a saltwater license. South Florida start to catch shrimp in January to April.
The secrecy code is still practiced by the older salts on the river, and there is a level of etiquette we must catch shrimp by. The difference between a good and bad night comes down to how well you set up your kill zone (light field).
Lousy light field means lousy totals. Knowing when to go will give you every advantage. For example, stay home on a 10+ mph North wind if your want to catch shrimp in Oak Hill.
FAQ’s Of Winter Shrimping
What are the Florida FWC laws & regulations concerning shrimping? Click the link in the answer below to go to FWC. If your going to catch shrimp you need to know a few regulations.
Answer:: Click Here Shrimp Rules & Regs
Can we catch shrimp if we are NOT anchored?
Answer: Yes, but careful shrimp dip net socks & light lines can prop foul when the engine is running
Can we drive our boat after we deployed our frame and catch shrimp in our frame net or box net?
Answer: No, that is considered trawling.
How far away from a commercial vessel should I be?
Answer: 75-100 yards, ideally 150 yards.
When do the commercial vessels retire those big wing nets?
Answer: March 1st, they have to use the 3×5, 4×4 box net we use, we are allowed 16 sq foot box/frame net.
What is the best way to protect my shrimping light investment so they last?
- Permanent marker your name and phone number on white PVC at bottom of light, lights dredged up have been returned
- A .99 electrical cord rack to organize shrimp light cord, a bungee light to wrap around caddy and cord for a nice bundle
Should I catch shrimp with boat bow into the current in a vertical setup, or horizontal where my stern and bow face the mangroves (East) and land (West)?
Answer: To catch shrimp do a horizontal setup it is easier on the body to dip
- 2 anchors, set back anchor first, troll boat horizontal and set bow anchor
- Invest in plow, claw or spade anchors that dig, if you can afford this
- Adding a box net adds more drag on the boat stressing the anchor set.
- I am not a big fan of running lights down anchor lines in Oak Hill/Edgewater
- Anchor line lighting limit your ability to set lights to optimize kill zone
- Once current goes “out” boat shifts to the East, pushes back North
- Allow for this shift if you deploy early in slack tide
Captain Lee, why are you not a fan of running lights down the anchor line to catch shrimp?
Answer: Let me clarify this point of view. If your shrimping Haulover Canal (Brevard County) running your light down your anchor line is the best way to deploy a light in the flow current. The amount of debris and snag on the bottom puts both anchors and shrimp lights at risk.
Using your anchor line you can run your light to the bottom, set the depth from top side, and retrieve your light even if you end up losing your anchor.
If your shrimping anywhere else, I strongly feel running your light down the anchor line limiting. You lose the ability to set your kill zone to maximize the harvest. I spend enormous amount of time setting all 4 of my MacDaddy Smart Lights™ . Control meaning how close to my boat I want my light field, how deep I want the lights, how close to the next light I wish to be. All these concerns affect how you will catch shrimp.
Experience has taught me, 6 inches off in my set can be a game changer (for the bad) in my 4 light configuration. Restricting my light deployment to the location of my anchors is narrowing in execution. To me, an anchor line set takes the “skill” out of the sport and leaves my lights at the mercy of where my anchors settled. That alone takes all my experience & knowledge out of the chase and kicks me backwards to the early days where we “prayed it up” for a bucket full of crickets.
- Away from your light field if you throw 3 ore more lights out front.
- If you throw 3 lights, consider rigging pipe to push frame net out way from boat.
- If you deploy 2 lights out front place net behind you middle of the boat, add cleat.
- Why? You can herd shrimp to frame net creating dark water between your 2 LED lights
- Pull first few inches of frame net out of the water at all times, catches more shrimp
- Adapting U-bolts and hardware to your boat may be necessary to pipe out frame net.
- Pontoon boats, put between the toons behind the boat and set 2 lights up front at 10 and 2pm at front of pontoon.
Capt Lee, can you show us your Shumaker frame net deployment technique from a pipe to catch shrimp?
Answer: Yes, I can. Understand when you buy an Ed Shumaker collapsible frame net from Marker69.com it comes with 2 bridle lines, as 12 foot tie off rope on the left and 12 foot tie off rope on the right side. I cut mine down, added a brass hook secured by stainless steel o-ring clamp and matched a 1″ stainless steel ring on the pipe secured by a stainless steel o-ring.
I prefer my top bar out of the water to stop the shrimp from sensing the the back flow of water that bounces off solid objects water. If the shrimp are running deep, I simply add extender galvanized chain (3 ft long) which I show in the video, and lower the net closer to the bottom. Some people like to take the 2 bridle lines and run them to a 2-3″ SS or brass ring, and then add 3rd line which is a single line out to a boat cleat. This way they have 1 line to cleat vs. 2 which is how it is made.
Catch Shrimp – Are shrimp attracted to the green or white light?
- Nope, winter shrimp HATE light including the natural light from a full moon
- The shrimp light is so you can see them
- Green is preferred because it causes less fatigue and is soothing
- White lights can cause migraine’s and eye fatigue
- The best light is the green and white hybrid light with both colors on at the same time
What do I recommend you pack/do on every shrimp trip?
- Knife, tongs to sort by-catch out of culling basket from frame net dump
- Dry clothes, fishing license, towing insurance ID
- Let somebody know your on the river
- Headlight, spotlight
- Working Navigation lights,check before you leave home
- mini $7 coleman battery lamp in case stern light fails
- Cable ties & small wire nips
- Run engine with muffs on in driveway before heading to ramp
- Grease bearings, check them every 6 months by professional
- Clean off corrosion of battery terminals
- Keep shrimping batteries hooked up to trickle charger at all times
- Big crab balls on your anchor lines in case you have to leave them behind
- Frame net and weights if collapsible model
- Extra long line clips to pinch off your dip and frame net socks
- GPS to mark a location you did good in
- Snacks and all medications
- Chap stick, bug spray or neck buff because of noseums
- Soft sole shoes, decks are slippery with hard rubber soles, you will fall
- Anti skid grit strips from Home Depot & spray adhesive for bow for traction
- Floaties on your shrimp lights
What is the most common mistake I see on the river?
- Lights set to high in water column and you drive shrimp away from the boat
- Shrimpers do not allow for the water level to fall as tide goes out, lights get bright
- Shrimpers light water hanging lights over the sides of their boats vs sink to bottom
How do I know where to clip the line between my weight and my light?
I created a formula that works great as your jump off point for your first light deployment. This formula is where I set my first light attempt.
I may decide to bring the light in and shorten line another 6 inches and see how it goes for visibility (fine tuning). Dip in the darkest light field you can see in. As the tide goes out your lights will get brighter and NOT turn the shrimp off if you allowed for this during your initial light set. When the tide gets its “teeth” (strength) it is no time to decide to re-deploy the lights because anchor lines are in the way and the current is strong which could bring the lights toward the boat.
DEPTH OF WATER – 8 = IS MY FORMULA (Depth – 8 = “X”) = Touch your weight and count back “X” amount of feet and clip off. That is it!
Example: Sitting in 12 foot of water. The formula is 12 – 8 = Touch my weight and count back 4 foot of rope and clip off.
Need to create black water at the upper part of water column for the to shrimp to source so that they will boil to the top above your disc of light. They immediately source darker water and favor running the darker edges of your light field.
Once first light is set, I set the middle light or just the 2nd light doing the same thing (meaning I am not using a 3rd light).
I set them in a 10 and 2 config (on a clock), I throw them out as far as I can throw and shimmy them back towards my vessel pulling on electrical cord.
The light field creates a ragged edge and not always a perfect circle of light. I make sure the bottom of the orb circle touches my gel coat of my boat. If you create ANY dark water to far out front of you, they will dive and disappear.
If they are running deep you will not be able to “mark” them if you have to much dark water in the front of your boat unless your partner on bow can call them out based on the angle they can see them from.
Tip –> If your boat is set horizontal and your frame net is on a center cleat, open your light fields in your kill zone (front of boat) creating an alley of sorts, the shrimp will source that dark water and herd into your frame net. If you have no frame net, close the gap between the 2 lights and allow the edges of the light field to overlap.
Can I throw my old (non-LED) lights with my LED lights?
Yes, but not on the same side of the boat as LED or you cancel your ability to herd using light. The cost of the LED lights is not because it is just another light source. You bought into the 360 degree light so that you can manipulate the shrimp based on how the shrimp light diffuses the light into a disc pattern. A 360 degree light does not shine light to the top or the bottom of the river.
Any LED vertical round or paneled lights can herd, not ALL LED lights available on market can herd, my testing and discoveries are based on a 360 degree illuminating LED lightds. The LED is not what gives you the ability to herd, its the design of the light. The LED by itself is just what makes the light battery friendly drawing around 14 -40 watts.
Step by Step – How To Deploy Your Lights.
- I am right handed
- Lead in my right hand (7-8 lbs)
- Light in my left hand
- Check feet to ensure cord is not tangled around any objects
- Grab rope 3/8″ thick at base of weight & deploy as far as I can toss
- Weight will pull my light out of my hand without striking the light
I am asked, how do you set your lights for the “Blow Shrimp Off The Bottom” configuration for Oak Hill and Edgewater?
Imagine a face of a clock. Lights set at 3pm and 9pm (goal posts), and I drop a 3rd LED light at 6pm, and let out about a foot of cord depending on where I am on depth. Sometimes, 6 inches. The goal posts turn the shrimp into my kill zone and the deep middle light forces them to swim up towards top of water (we call that a boil pattern). You do not mark them from a distance on top water…your looking down and see nothing, then all of a sudden a cricket pops to top giving you 2 seconds to react and net.
Warning: Setting that middle 6pm light puts you at risk smashing your light with your weight because of short rope. If your setting a frame net do not set on a middle cleat if your setting the 6pm shrimp light, the 3rd light may deter your herding to frame net (center light will steer the shrimp away from frame net). My frame net is suspended away from boat on pipe, so I have no concerns. Set your frame net, if no return on the set (meaning no shrimp), retire it if your dipping crazy with the 3 lights out front.
How do I handle the “disorientation” of wind chop and wind ripple on the top water?
Wind is my friend, if the wind lays down the stagnation slows the pull. Wind can drive them deeper in water column. If the winds are a problem,I pull my lights closer to my boat in a tighter config.
Sometimes the I need the core center of light to be intense or be within 6 foot of another light so I can see through a strong wind chop.
A wind chop is hard for me to see in if my lights are way to far out in front of me, I will lose the shrimp as they near my boat. The wind is a good thing but can be a bad thing if you so not set correct. Bring the lights tighter to the boat. If you cannot see and are losing shrimp, you have nothing to lose pulling them closer.
This is the ONLY time I break my own rules concerning the lights to close to the boat. When your in tough conditions, all rules are off, you do the best you can with what you got. The amount of dipping will tell you how your doing or if you need to adjust something further.
What irritates me on the river that challenges my enjoyment?
- Sport vessels anxious to get to their spot and blow a wake at me forcing me to drop on my knee so I am not thrown overboard. It also dislodges my lights and forces a reset at times
- Sport vessels anxious to get back to boat ramp, there night is over and they blow by me at high speed forcing me off the bow and sometimes dislodging my shrimp lights & anchors
- Parasitic shrimpers who cruise the side lines looking to see who is dipping shrimp and they push in cutting off the stream
- NEVER dip when a boat passes you
From the ramp to CM 9a area is a NO WAKE/slow zone. An acceptable wake is the speed necessary to remain in control of your vessel. If a yacht comes by and sends a 3 foot wake, they are NOT being idiots. That is the slowest they can go without losing control over their vessel.
What do you do if somebody is rude and cuts you off pushing in after your settled?
If somebody cuts you off, wait a moment, they may be setting their anchors and are going to drop back away from your stream.
Many set a lot of line with those danforth anchors and drop away, so just wait. If they are to close, politely let them know they cut you off. If they do not care. Go back to dipping and see how your stream is. If you feel your stream is compromised, pull your gear and move. I have been known to shine a spotlight in their face (since they are SOOO close) that tends to send a message and they move.
Keep your focus, your burning tide…just move and re-set…you have no choice and the sooner you move the sooner your anger will settle as you get back into your drip frenzy…
Me, I just move and jump the boat that jumped me but at a safe distance. I am not saying that is the best choice but sometimes a “hands on” lesson back at them cures them of this rude behavior. Bring a high powered torch or spot light, you never know when you will need it.
When do I move from one spot to another?
Answer: If your not marking shrimp, make sure your lights are set deep, throw one as deep as you can and do this for observation. If your not marking shrimp first hour or so, move…sometimes going a little deeper on a move or moving left or right 30 feet can make a difference.
Sometimes just motoring to entire new location helps.
I rarely move, but on occasion I do and it has always been for the better. Remember your burning tide. it is a BIG hassle to pull gear and reset, but it is a bigger disappointment going home with a small pull regretting the decision to stay put and not move.
What is the one thing shrimpers do NOT plan for when taking guests?
- Man overboard, flotation device needs to be exposed on your boat for easy deployment
- Ensure you have a ladder or a plan to retrieve your guests or another shrimper who fell off a nearby vessel
- Dry clothes if you have extra storage in case somebody fall in
- No knife to cut away tangled anchor lines in case you need to cut away quickly
- Extra pair of glasses with you
- Spot light
Winter Shrimping Equipment
Winter shrimping is a night time event in Central Florida requiring basically the same gear whether you shrimp from a boat or structure.
- 12v Shrimping lights
- Batteries (tractor) to power these lights
- Dip net (standard is 8 foot, bridge handles are 2 piece and around 16 ft)
- 5 gallon bucket with ice packs or ice to keep the meat cooled
- Box/Frame net is optional (check with your County ordinances)
Many of us like to set our boat horizontal into the current, this allows us to dip off the side of our boat with friends. If you deploy a frame net, you are adding extra drag on your anchors. If you use danforth anchors you may have a hard time setting in the Edgewater, Florida.
My anchor choice are “plow” and “spade” anchors. My boat is 17′ skiff and I ensure my boat is set so that I do not dislodge and become a missile to the boat behind me. When boats drift with gear deployed anglers panic and reach for the engine key and start their boat. This causes an anchor prop foul (they forgot to bring their gear in) and renders them helpless forcing the next boat to take corrective action to get out of the path of a run away vessel.
- Put styro foam crab balls on your anchor lines near the cleat, that way if you toss them overboard you can retrieve them
- Put floating devices on your lights (at terminal ends), that way if you toss them overboard you can retrieve them
If a run away vessel threatens me, there is NO time for me to pull in 2 anchors and 4 shrimp lights. But, I do have enough time to throw my gear overboard so that I can motor out of harms way.
A dip net cannot be more than 30 inches in diameter, come in 8-18 foot handles depending if you get a boat or pier net. This is the power dipper with a re-enforced neck so that the current does not bend the hoop backwards. Keep this in mind when shopping for nets.
Frame or box net must be 3×5 or 4×4 (law allows 16 sq ft) net that is attached to your boat. The law requires you have a marking styrofoam ball so other vessels cans see you have a frame net deployed. Check your County for regulations concerning the use of a frame or box net before buying.
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- Read Oak Hill, Florida Shrimp Reports – (Click Here)
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- Read Titusville, Florida Shrimp Reports – (Click Here)
- Read Melbourne, Florida Shrimp Reports – (Click Here)
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