Plenty of shrimp are still in the lowcountry creeks and bays of South Carolina, and even though shrimp baiting season is in for another several days, you can catch them without baiting. Amy Anderson of Mt. Pleasant catches plenty of shrimp without bait, and said three main keys keep her on the shrimp.
The first and most obvious, Anderson said, is a deep hole shrimping net. This type of net has a wide strip of material — often referred to as tape — along the hem of the net. This tape helps the net open fully while it’s descending in the water column, and it has a long rope to reach holes as deep as 50 feet or more.
A depth finder is her second necessity. This helps her find the deepest holes in the area, and these holes can be found within sight of many of the boat landings along Charleston Harbor, the Folly River, and many other lowcountry waterways.
“You want to find the ledge leading to the deepest hole, and that’s where you want to cast. You can find the general area by looking for places that a smaller creek or river empties into the main channel, but a depth finder allows you to pinpoint the deepest hole. If you’re a foot off in one direction or the other, you might not catch any shrimp at all. But if you’re on the hole, you’re going to catch them.”
“The depth can change from 25 feet deep to 40 feet deep really quickly, and you want to know where that depth change is, and you want to be able to go back to that spot quickly. A depth finder helps you do that,” she said.
Last, but not least, on Anderson’s list is a boat driver who communicates with her constantly while she’s preparing to make a cast.
“I want them watching the depth finder and calling out the depth to me as we approach the hole, even when the depth changes as little as one foot. The transducer is located on the back of the boat, so I have to factor that in when deciding when to cast. Having the boat driver call those numbers out to me is a big help,” she said.
The driver also needs to shift smoothly when Anderson calls for them to put the boat in reverse, neutral, or forward, otherwise she can end up in the water real fast.
“And when I call for neutral, reverse, or whatever, it also helps for them to tell say ‘neutral,’ or whatever once they shift. That way I know they heard me, and I know they’ve done it so I’m not wasting time wondering,” she said.
Anderson’s favorite part of deep hole shrimping is feeling the shrimp hitting the net once she’s on them. It’s a similar type of feeling that rod-and-reel anglers feel when they are getting a bite.
“It’s like a flicking feeling when they run into the net. I just love that feeling. It’s hard to describe to someone that hasn’t felt it. It’s addictive. When I feel it, I know I’m about to bring some red legs on the boat,” she said.