Shrimping with Friends in Everett May 2013

Saturday was our very first chance at Spot Shrimp here in Puget Sound Country. We are blessed with such tasty critters thriving in our local waters, even if we only have two days each year to catch them. Spot Shrimp are one of the most delicious shellfish I’ve experienced. They are a large coldwater shrimp that has the sweetest flavor, some call them Puget Sound Lobsters. The harvest is not for the weak or ill-prepared, heavy pots with long leaded lines must be deployed and pulled from over 200 feet of water. I had the pleasure of joining friends out on the Sound for opening day.

We met at the Everett Marina at 6 am and loaded our food, camera and shrimping gear. The journey out of the marina was akin to Monday morning rush hour. Boats merged from their slips into the steady stream of vessels all headed out after Spot Shrimp.

Our season is short. We have just a few days to harvest this year, and although the limit may seem very generous at 80 Spot Shrimp per person, they are such a treat that most of us shrimpers find that a few meals is all it takes to exhaust the stockpile. While it may appear to be a lot of work for a few meals, I find the whole process of baiting, setting, pulling, sorting, cleaning (and yes then consuming) to be rewarding and enjoyable.

We headed due west from the marina, to the southern side of Gedney Island. There is a large flat expanse just south of the island, and the steep drop off on the edge was where we would find the Shrimp. This is a popular spot and very well known, so we were not alone. We baited out pots and waited for the official start: 7am. With only eight hours before all pots must be out of the water, we wasted no time. Captain Todd has been shrimping for about 12 years, and has pretty much figured out what works and what does not. He also knows that time is not on our side, especially with six people on board and a goal of six limits, or 480 shrimp.

Todd deployed the first pot about fifteen seconds after 7am. Like I said, he’s figured out what works, and wasting time does not. We cruised the edge of the drop off, setting pots at 225 feet to 280 feet. Our fourth and final pot was soaking before 7:30am, and we began our very first pull by 8am. We have always given two hours soak time before pulling pots, but Todd wanted to experiment with shorter soak times… it paid off big time. It was an interesting concept; while longer soaks allow for shrimp to be drawn from a greater distance, how far would a shrimp be willing to travel away from his burrow to find food? If soaking pots for only an hour worked, we would be able to double the amount of sets, meaning that pots set in an unproductive place would be moved quicker.

Well, we made our first pull, and the shorter soak time worked out in our favor. We had two limits from our first pull! We pulled, re-baited and reset pots a total of 4 times before the deadline. Some pot pulls yielded zero, others yielded almost a full limit. As the afternoon winds kicked up, maneuvering the 29’ vessel with buoys and boats everywhere was a challenge, but doable. We worked great as a team, Robin played deckhand, Todd manned the puller, and Wayne & I took turns piloting.

While it might seem unimpressive to get in 4 pulls for 4 pots in 8 hours, the pulling takes time, baiting takes time, searching for an open place among the sea of bobbing boats and buoys takes time. Our very last pot yielded us about 25 Spot Shrimp, bringing the grand total to 437: shy of six limits but impressive nonetheless! A great day on the water, lots of fun with friends, and plenty of tasty Spot Shrimp to bring home to the family!

Here are a few pics of our day out, hope you enjoy em! I will be heading out for Wednesday with Todd and a smaller crew, so we will have a little time to try our luck at Lingcod fishing as well 