Puget Sound Spot Shrimp season is still at least a month away, but I’m so eager for opening day, that I can’t help but start preparation. Opening day is thrilling, jovial and productive, and nothing makes me feel better during that first shot at Spot Shrimp than being prepared and ready to go!
As I write this post, in early April, we still await the word of when the season will start. Recent state shrimp surveys have shown that we are in for a great and productive opener! Some areas in the San Juan Islands, Hood Canal, and the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca will see multiple days, but close to my hometown, Seattle area shrimpers get one, maybe two days per area to soak pots. There are more than enough people eager to get their boats out. Although we haul in great catches when we get a chance, Central Puget Sound is destined for a short season. If you are like me, and plan on shrimping near Seattle, Edmonds, Bremerton or Everett, it’s best to be the best version of your shrimping self and get ready early!
I want to share a few pointers for anyone that is ready for a Puget Sound Spot Shrimp refresher, but here is an article I posted that will share even more… Puget Sound Spot Shrimping.
2021 Puget Sound Shrimp Season
We still await the final word on when the opener will be. We should all plan on a one day opener in Tacoma Marine Area 11, Seattle/Bremerton Marine Area 10, Edmonds/Admiralty Inlet Marine Area 9, and Everett/Saratoga Passage Marine Areas 8-1 and 8-2. In year’s past, some of these areas have been gifted with a second opener once catches have been counted. Hood Canal’s Marine Area 12, San Juan Islands Marine Area 7, and Eastern Strait of Juan De Fuca Marine Area 6 should see more opening days offered up front.
Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will post an announcement online once shrimp season is set, and we should see it sometime this month. Most likely, the opener will occur in early to mid-May. You can always rely on the WDFW Recreational Shrimp Fishing Regulations Page for the season in each area once it has been announced.
How To Prepare for the Puget Sound 2021 Spot Shrimp Season
Preparation is the key to enjoying any of our fishing seasons for sure. Nothing makes me more confident in a successful day on the water than knowing that I have done everything I can, in advance, to maximize the short window of opportunity we get. While most of our daily openers in Puget Sound are short, usually somewhere between a mere 4 and 6 hours between setting and retrieving our gear, if you are dialed-in, that is more than enough time to haul in a great catch.
Boat Prep for Shrimping
For many of us, our first day of spring Shrimping is the first time that the boat is back on the water after a long winter slumber. I usually try and sneak out for a little Blackmouth fishing or winter trout fishing on the local lakes. If your boat has been sitting idle, and you haven’t taken it into a shop for a spring service, it is a great idea to head out and do a shake-down run on the lake or Puget Sound while the launches are quiet for a quick outing. Iron out any kinks, make sure your fuel is good and motor and pot puller is reliable.
With all the effort you take to show your friends and family a great time shrimping, it is worth the effort to get the boat out running so that you have piece of mind when you head out for our very short local shrimping season.
Prepping your Crew for Shrimping
I have enjoyed the last several Puget Sound shrimp openers with my brother, sister-in-law and parents. After a couple experiences, they all know what goes into a successful day. We all have a job to do. I run the boat, my brother deploys the gear, we all take turns pulling gear, and mom (being the most honest and sensible) is the one to count shrimp into individual containers. If you have new guests joining you, it isn’t a bad idea to share with them their role in the process.
In my experiences, I have found that sharing a little about the experience and letting them know what they will be doing is much appreciated. I have found that newcomers on board my boat really enjoy being a part of the team process, and giving them a heads up makes them feel like a productive part of the crew before we even begin to motor out of the marina. The first time my parents, and brother/sister-in-law experienced shrimping, I focused on explaining what to do and calmly coached, and let them dive in and do the work, we had such a great time and it made the haul of Spot Shrimp limits that much sweeter and stress free for all.
Year after year, as I motor up to my shrimping spot and see others around waiting for the opening time, I love seeing boats that have everyone ready to work as a team! Some boat operators get nervous with the crowded conditions that we see in many Puget Sound shrimping hot spots, and an educated crew makes for a much more enjoyable time!
Gear Prep for Shrimping
You want to make sure that your shrimp pots are ready for action, even before you load them onto your boat the night before. Make sure your pots are weighted properly. You need to have a plan on how to fix your bait cages into the pots. You need to have a line management system, I have plastic baskets with all my line ready to go. There needs to be a way to attach your line to your pots and your buoys. Yellow shrimp buoys need to be marked with your name and address to be legal, and adding a phone number is a great idea in case they are lost.
Think about your boat layout, and where the best location will be to stow your pots, line, buoys and bait so that you are ready to deploy. Remember, you can legally have two pots per person but a maximum of four pots per boat regardless of how many people you take.
Bait Prep for Shrimping
For most of us, our preferred shrimp bait is some mixture of canned cat food, commercial shrimp pellets, canned mackerel, herring, and maybe a herring oil. I already started shopping for bait ingredients and plan on mixing everything up in a 5-gallon bucket the night before opening day. I strive for a mixture that will leach out a big scent trail, but be firm enough to last for a 1-2 hour soak. We should anticipate our Central Puget Sound opener will be 4 hours, so my goal will be to pull all my pots twice. I always re-bait before my second drop.
Hood Canal Spot Shrimp openers will most likely also be 4 hours. In this case, if your bait mixture is somewhere between the consistency of yogurt and peanut butter in thickness, you will do well. San Juan Islands and Eastern Straight of Juan de Fuca openers will most likely be longer, maybe all day, so you can have a thicker consistency bait, if you plan on pulling pots less frequently.
Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season is one of my favorites!
Those of us that have been shrimping in Puget Sound know this, it is a high-participation fishery. This is the closest experience that we get to commercial fishing on our very own private boats! With such a tasty forage that we seek, it may seem like a high-stakes venture, but there is no greater gift to your guests than being prepared and showing your friends and family a fun experience while hauling in one of Puget Sound’s most sought after delicacies. I hope to see plenty of you out enjoying the opener and good luck!