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Easy Florida Fun: Shrimping

June 24, 2018

Water is a central feature of fun in Florida. Now throw in capturing some tasty eats, and you’re really ramping up the fun factor. One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to put together fun and a feast around the water is shrimping.

There are a variety ways to hunt and capture shrimp, but this discussion focuses on wading a shoreline with a few basic pieces of equipment.

Shrimping essentials

Saltwater fishing license: Florida residents and nonresidents must have a saltwater fishing license unless they are exempt. The list of exemptions includes children under 16 years of age and senior citizens. The complete list of exemptions and the regulations for shrimping are online.

Footwear: You’re walking in the water, probably no deeper than your knees, so let’s start with footwear. You can, of course, go barefoot. But because you’re most likely on a grassy flat with hidden rocks, shells, crabs, stingrays and the like, it’s advisable to wear sandals or watershoes to somewhat protect the feet and toes.

Lighting: You hunt shrimp by shining a light in the water and looking for a pinkish/reddish reflection off the shrimp’s eyes. Most shrimpers wear a headlamp with a bright white light, though some use a flashlight.

Net: A long-handle dip net or fine-mesh landing net is used to scoop the shrimp. The netting should be deep enough so the shrimp cannot flip themselves out easily. Landing or dip nets cannot have an opening larger than 96 inches around the perimeter, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations.

Bucket: Put your catch in a bait bucket or container with a lid to prevent escape.

Cooler with ice: At the end of the hunt, you’ll want to put the shrimp in a container on ice to keep their freshness.

The Shrimp Hunt

Shrimp hunting is best in the dark after sunset. Enter the water slowly and wade along the shoreline so you make as few ripples as possible. Shine your light into the water just ahead of your feet and look for the pinkish-red reflection that comes off of the shrimp’s eyes. Shrimp will generally be in the grass but they can be found over sandy bottom as well. Once you locate a shrimp, dip your net gently into the water and work it under the shrimp and lift up. Easy!

The Wrapup

Get your shrimp home, pinch off the head, peel the shell, devein the body. Add a bit of salt to some boiling water and drop in the shrimp for 1 to 3 minutes until the shrimp turns opaque. Then drain, rinse in cold water and eat with cocktail sauce or chill them for later.

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