Shrimping on the Puget Sound near Edmonds!
On Wednesday we went on the hunt for Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound near Edmonds. I have been shrimping in Puget Sound since I was a kid, but today was my first time playing the role of captain on a busy shrimping opener in the Sound. I had my good buddies Chris and Mitch along, and the real excitement was that my dad joined us! We only get a few short days in May to catch Spot Shrimp in Puget Sound. The anticipation is extreme, the stakes are high, but the fun times on the water and the payoff of fresh Spot Shrimp always keeps me coming back.
Chris and Mitch dropping shrimp pots in the morning.
Getting ready to drop shrimp pots in Edmonds
We launched the boat in Ballard early. The intention was to avoid any stress and get to Edmonds with plenty of time to prep our pots before the 7 am opener. The reality was that I didn’t realize that the opener wasn’t until 9 am! So we met Chris in Edmonds and tied the boat up at the guest dock to head out for breakfast. I’m not too proud to share that with you, but I will say I was a little embarrassed. So we got up an extra two hours early? So what!? Breakfast at the Edmonds Pancake Haus was good and gave us fuel to go full throttle on the water. With our bellies full of hashbrowns, bacon and eggs, we headed back to the boat.
Setting gear around the crowds of Browns Bay
We cruised out of the Edmonds Marina headed to Browns Bay, the epicenter of Marine Area 9 shrimping. Is Browns Bay better than anywhere else? Probably not, but it is an area I know and we joined the fleet anyways. We motored around and found an area that looked worthy of dropping our pots. Mitch baited the pots and we jockeyed all the gear around the back deck of my small center console to make running gear trouble free. I think that the best advice I could give for anyone shrimping is to get everyone involved and make sure the crew works as a team. This is especially important when boats and buoys are surrounding you.
The Spot Shrimp opener was at 9 am and everyone motored around their spots ready to drop. Someone actually sounded an air horn at 9 am on the dot and the bay was abuzz with boats idling around dropping pots. I can best describe it as organized chaos. Everyone was in a good mood (of course), and it was impressive to see a hundred boats all working in close quarters without any drama.
Soaking shrimp pots and hanging out.
The tides were weak but the winds were strong!
It was right around the 9 am opener that the winds started to kick up to 15 knots. This isn’t uncommon for Puget Sound. But when everyone is clustered around a small area it usually makes things interesting. Today was not a stressful day, regardless of the winds. You need to realize that everyone is trying to drop their pots in 240′ to 300′ and that depth line is pretty thin on the steep drop offs of Puget Sound.
I reminded myself of the term line scope. Pretty much everyone’s shrimp pot setup has 400′ of lead core line. Pretty much everyone drops their gear in 240′ to 300′ so the excess line means that your buoy is going to be pulled at least 50′ down current of where your pot is actually anchored. As long as you realize this, you can strategically motor to a spot where you can drop your pot without danger of drifting into another pot. Like I said, it was pretty stress free and nearly all of the boats nearby operated in a matter that made me confident that it wasn’t going to be an issue. Once the pots were dropped it turned into a waiting game for them to soak.
Mitch with a handful of Spot Shrimp from our first haul.
Working for our Spot Shrimp limits
Shrimping ain’t always easy. We had to work for our Spot Shrimp today. I don’t know whether if it was the conditions or the fact that it was the second day and they were hit hard previously. On our first pull, our pots weren’t stuffed but ended up with one full limit of 80 shrimp. Forty in one, thirty in the other, ten in the other, zero in the last pot. The second pull was about the same. I was still amazed at the bounty. Imagine 100 boats in a small area, so that equals 400 pots and everyone still was yielding decent hauls of Spot Shrimp.
With the massive sea of yellow buoys and boats, I knew we needed to really focus on boat control. Chris and Mitch pulled and set the gear. My efforts were focused on boat control. I made sure that we kept the boat right on top of our pots as we pulled, motoring on top of the pot we were pulling. If we ran up to pull a pot and just drifted freely we would have tangled and snared other lines and pots. We did good!
For our third and final set, we decided to only drop two pots at Browns Bay and run the other two down in front of Edmonds. We waited until the very end of the time limit to make our last pull.
Puget Sound Spot Shrimp
Crowded shrimping grounds and a few to take home
Our final pull in Browns Bay was okay, not by historical standards but it did get us closer to the four limits we hoped for. It was obvious that most boats in the fleet were working hard for their limits, because there were few boats that left until the very end of the opener. We had to have all our pots out of the water by 1 pm. I have never seen a shorter season in Puget Sound, 9 am to 1 pm. By Hood Canal shrimping season standards this is the norm, but we have always had a more liberal season here. Roll with the punches and put in your best effort I guess!
We pulled our two pots in Browns Bay and made sure we had plenty of time to run down to Edmonds to pull our final two pots. By the end of the day we had just over 3 limits for the 4 of us, and I can’t complain because 260 Spot Shrimp is still a worthwhile haul!
With two good friends, my dad and the best boat dog in the world Miles on board it was a perfect day on Puget Sound! And that is the end of the 2018 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp season.