ODFW photo - Coon Stripe ShrimpODFW photo - Spot Prawn

How to Catch Shrimp Using a Shrimp Trap or Shrimp Pot

When I was a child, my family would visit my relatives in Charleston, South Carolina. We'd caravan out to their house in the country that was smack dab next to a salt water creek. There was a dock and we'd spend hours fishing for blue crabs off the dock, using a length of cotten string, and a chicken neck for bait. We'd tie on a weight and the chicken neck and lower it down into the water until we felt the tug from a crab. Slowly and carefully we'd pull up the crab and then scoop it up with a ready net. My Aunt Candy would cook up a mess of crabs, and if we were lucky a mess of Charleston Crab Cakes.

When the tide was low, my Uncle Ike and Cousin Tommy and my Dad Lamar would take out the seine and drag it down the creek in the remaining pools, to catch shrimp and fish and crabs. We kids would tag along and see what interesting stuff we could find. As far as I can remember there is no better tasting shrimp than fresh caught wild shrimp. We love shrimp. My Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and my Family would gather around and feast on the seafood bounty we all gathered. It was an incredible time, and I greatly covet these memories of being with family and catching and gathering our food the old fashioned way from Nature.

Now, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I go fishing and crabbing on the ocean with the Tolman Skiff JumboYellow Tolman SkiffTolman Skiff - A boat designed by Renn Tolman of Homer Alaska. It is made of Marine Grade Plywood, and Fiberglass and is encapsulated with Epoxy to seal all wood from water. It is of Dory heritage and has the characteristic sweeping sheer and flared sides for reserve bouyancy. The Tolman Skiff is a Modified-V design and has a high bow for rough water. There are three models of Tolman Skiffs to build. I built in my driveway. We are lucky here to have access to the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay and the Napa, Sacramento and Petaluma Rivers. I love being on the water and I love fishing and I love eating seafood.

It's Fall, and the season that we head out the Golden Gate to drop our best crab potsCrab Pot used for catching Dungeness and Rock Crabs and catch limits of Dungeness Crabs and perhaps drop a line or two in 180 feet of water to catch a mess of Sand Dabs. This year I plan to also drop a line of ShrimpPots and try to catch a mess of CoonStripe Shrimp (also know as coon stripe prawns or dock shrimp).

And so, I aim to become an expert on choosing, rigging, and using Shrimp Pots or Shrimp Traps, and catching our local Coon Stripe Shrimp, and Spot Prawns. I aim to share this knowledge with my friends at the Coastside Fishing Club and anyone else who desires to catch their own shrimp. I plan on putting together a complete tutorial (below) on catching Coon Stripe Shrimp. It should be easy for anyone who has access to the ocean to set the correct gear in a place that holds the shrimp, use effective bait and to catch as many shrimp as they desire to consume.

And now all I need is the ocean to calm down so I can go shrimping, or as a relative once said, "schwimppin".

How to Rig Your Shrimp Pot

List of Shrimping Materials
  1. Your choice of Shrimp Pot or Shrimp Trap. There are many brands and types of Shrimp Traps available for purchase online or in stores. Visit your local tackle store, and if they have no Shrimp Pots in stock, inquire about getting them. Beware, that some areas of the country have very specific requirements of Shrimp Pot dimensions and mesh size, number of traps, and depths and areas to fish in. I am going to start out with a couple of Protoco Shrimp TrapsProtoco Crawfish and Shrimp Trap Combo with 1/2 inch by 1 inch mesh that I purchased from the Outdoor Pro Shop in Oakland, CA. These run about $78 each. They are vinyl coated and have four tunnel entrances, and a pre-installed bait cage in the center.
  2. You'll need a length of 1/4 or 5/16 inch lead weighted line that is longer than the depth you want to fish at. Minimally 20-25% longer than depth at high tide. shrimp trap line scope. I've been using Blue Steel 5/16 inch lead core line I got from Seamar.com a couple years ago for my Danielson Crab Traps. This year I'll be using two additional Crab Pots made by Protoco.com. It's important to use weighted line so that another boater or even yourself doesn't come along and run over your floating line and then foul the prop. A propeller wrapped with crab pot line or shrimp pot line can be incredibly dangerous. Just this year an elderly couple lost their lives when their prop became fouled in a crab pot line in large dangerous seas. Folks think the tangle forced the boat to turn away from the large swell, and then when the wave broke over the boat it filled the stern of the boat and quickly flipped it over, throwing the couple into the 51 degree water. I've seen many floating crab lines and have luckily been able to avoid getting my prop tangled up. The idiots who drop their crab and shrimp traps in a heavily traveled channel and do so with floating line held up by clorox bottles are unnecessarily endangering many people's lives.
  3. You must use Proper Crab or Shrimp Pot Buoys. Do not use clorox bottles or buoys that have too much flotation for your gear. Too much flotation and your pots will "walk" in rough seas and you may never find them. I typically use 6 x 11 crab pot buoy for both my crab pots and shrimp pots. In California you are required to have your CF or boat hull number written on the buoy for identification. I engrave mine with an old soldering iron. I also use special Vinyl paint to color my buoys to make them easier to identify at a distance. Early in the season the ocean is carpeted with commercial and recreational crab pot buoys, and it's easy to lose your gear.
  4. Unweighted line for rigging a harness. Or use a store bought harness. I like to rig my prawn traps and crab pots with a harness that has a loop that will take a shot of line. The idea is to easily be able to switch out a long crab line with a short crab line and vice-a-versa for the various depths you might fish. The harness can have two, three or four tie in points on the trap. It's a matter of personal preference. I tend to use a four point harness since I think it's easier to drop the crab and shrimp pots so that they will properly land on their bottoms. I have the funny feeling that a two point harness leaves more room for error. A crab or prawn trap laying on it's side is not going to catch crabs or prawns since one or more of the entrance doors may hang open.
  5. Some Shrimp pots have elastic connected hooks to hold access doors closed or to hold bait cages or bottles in place. Other traps and pots require Zip Ties for securing folding trap corners, doors, weights etc. Update: I have started using bicycle inner tubes, cut into rubber bands and strips using a razor blade. They seem to last longer that surgical rubber tubes I had originally on my Protoco Shrimp pots.
  6. Plastic Label Zip Ties or similar for ID'ing your pot. Sooner or later you will lose one of your shrimp pots or crab pots and an ID might help you get your gear back.
  7. Weights for the Shrimp Trap. You should use more weight for deeper fishing or for heavy current and large tidal flows. I use old pieces of re-bar that I wrap with plastic tape. Protoco sells metal bars that are vinyl coated. Some folks use old iron Sash Weights, Dumbell Weights, melted down tire balancing weights, and 1lb or heavier fishing weights. ZipTie the weignts to the bottom of the shrimp trap, and distribute the weights on the bottom so the shrimp pot falls flat and settles on the ocean bottom.
  8. Bait Jars or Bait Bags I typically use the orange Scotty bait jars that have a thread on cap for my crab traps, and plain old cans of Tuna Cat Food. If I have some old rock fish carcasses I'll just zip tie them to the roof of the crab pot. There are commercial crabbing clips that work even better. I've not used bait bags like you see on the Deadliest Catch, but I'm contemplating them for shorter soaks so that they milk scent in a more intense manner. I've been hoarding onion and other plastic net bags that my produce comes in just for these short soaks. Will report back on my success.
  9. Bait.Over the years I've experimented with a large variety of bait for my crabpots, and I'm doing the same for my shrimp pots. I've used a lot of variety of Cat Foods, with the Trader Joe's 100% Tuna being very productive. I've used chicken necks, gizzards, hearts, and liver, old freezer burned tuna and rockfish, the carcases of tuna, salmon and rockfish and perhaps my favorite, sand dabs. I'm convinced that you will have the very best bait for crabs and shrimp that come directly from the areas you are crabbing and shrimping. Just last year I had one big Protoco crab trap and 5 Danielson crab pots that were fished close together. I used cat food in one trap, chicken in another, tuna in one, etc. The most productive pot was the Protoco, and it was loaded with 24 jumbo sized Dungeness. It was baited with frozen Sand Dabs. The other pots had one or two crabs. I think the same is true for shrimp. Once you find hungry shrimp, they will go for the bait they are most accustomed to.
  10. Electrical Tape for Temporary Binding of Line Ends. When rigging the crab pots and shrimp traps, I'll tie knots or splice the line. Burning the ends of the line will help with unraveling, but sometimes just wrapping the ends with electrical tape works fine also.
List of Tools
  1. Sharp Knife
  2. Side cutter pliers
  3. Fid for splicing non-braided line
  4. Wood burner or soldering iron for burning in Hull numbers or other ID's in your floats.
  5. Lighter or heated rope cutter for sealing ends of line.
Fishing, Crabbing and Shrimping Regulations West Coast
  1. 2009-2010 California Fishing Regulations
  2. Washington State Shrimping Regulations
  3. Oregon Fishing Regulations
  4. Alaska Fishing Regulations
Fishing, Crabbing and Shrimping Regulations East Coast
  1. Alabama Fishing Regulations
  2. Connecticut Fishing Regulations
  3. Delaware Fishing Regulations
  4. Florida Fishing Regulations
  5. Georgia Fishing Regulations
  6. Louisiana Fishing Regulations
  7. Maine Fishing Regulations
  8. Maryland Fishing Regulations
  9. Massachusetts Fishing Regulations
  10. Mississippi Fishing Regulations
  11. New Hampshire Fishing Regulations
Suppliers for Shrimp, Crab and Crawfish Pots, Bait Cages and other related gear etc
  1. Protoco, Inc
  2. Outdoor Pro Shop

What are Coon-Stripe Shrimp?

Scientific name:
Pandalus danae
Phylum:
Anthropoda – the same phylum that contains insects!
Size:
May reach a length of 15 cm (almost 6 inches). Its antennae are as long as its body.
Description:
Dark brown, red, and white markings. Legs and antennae look banded. These colors and the translucent nature of its body provide good camouflaging.
Habitat:
Coon-stripe shrimp like pilings, piers, breakwaters, and submerged logs. If you look carefully, you may see them from above, especially at the end of the day or at night.
Diet:
This little shrimp is a big feeder, and is quite aggressive towards its prey, larger zooplankton and small crustaceans.
Range:
They are found from Alaska to Bahia San Quintin, in Baja California. Relatives: There are many dozens of Pacific Coast shrimp. Only a few are large enough to easily see, though. Even the tiny ones are important food for fish, birds, and other animals.
Conservation Status:
Coon-stripe shrimp are not endangered, nor are they a very desirable commercial species. However, many are caught unintentionally by the growing fleet of boats trawling for other shrimp.
Fun Facts:
Shelter is the key for where these shrimp can be found. They like to remain in crevices, under piers, or under algae during the day, and come out into the open at dusk. ! Like all Pacific Coast shrimp, the coon-stripes have pinchers! Theirs are tiny, located on the second set of legs, and are used for grooming and to handle food. ! The sharp rostrum, or shell protruding near the eyes, protects the coon-stripe from small predators. But it does not help against large predators like the lingcod! ! Like others in the Pandalidae family, coon-stripes begin their adult life as males, and later change their sex to female. As females they brood their eggs on their abdomen.

What are Spot Prawns (or Spot Shrimp)?

Scientific name:
Pandalus platyceros
Phylum:
Anthropoda – the same phylum that contains insects!
Size:
May reach a length of 23 cm (almost 9 inches). Its antennae are as long as its body.
Description:
Dark brown, red, and white markings. Legs and antennae look banded. Spot Prawns have spots (on abdominal somites 1 and 5)
Habitat:
Spot Prawns like a hard bottom in 600 to 1,080 feet (183 to 329 meters) of water. They are commonly caught in canyons and areas that If you look carefully, you may see them from above, especially at the end of the day or at night.
Diet:
Spot prawns feed on other shrimp, plankton, small mollusks, worms, sponges, and fish carcasses. They usually forage on the bottom throughout the day and night.
Range:
They are found from Alaska to Bahia San Quintin, in Baja California. Relatives: There are many dozens of Pacific Coast shrimp. Only a few are large enough to easily see, though. Even the tiny ones are important food for fish, birds, and other animals.
Conservation Status:
Spot Prawns are not endangered and considered sustainable. Trapping is also considered
Fun Facts:
Shelter is the key for where these shrimp can be found. They like to remain in crevices, under piers, or under algae during the day, and come out into the open at dusk. ! Like all Pacific Coast shrimp, the coon-stripes have pinchers! Theirs are tiny, located on the second set of legs, and are used for grooming and to handle food. ! The sharp rostrum, or shell protruding near the eyes, protects the coon-stripe from small predators. But it does not help against large predators like the lingcod! ! Like others in the Pandalidae family, coon-stripes begin their adult life as males, and later change their sex to female. As females they brood their eggs on their abdomen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coon Stripe Shrimp

What Kind of Shrimp Pot?
There are many kinds and brands of shrimp pots available for purchase, and some folks build their own. Many double as Crayfish traps and some have different entrance hole sizes and mesh size depending on the type of shrimp or crayfish you are targeting. In some cases local and state laws will dictate what type and number of traps you can use, as well as it's overall dimensions, and mesh size
Can I Use My Shrimp Pot to Catch Crawfish?
Yeppers, you can use a Shrimp Pot Protoco Crawfish and Shrimp Trap Combo to catch Crawfish (Crayfish, Crawdads) etc. Check local regulations for restrictions, license requirments etc.
What Size Mesh on Your Shrimp Pot?
Some areas of the West Coast have very specific minimum and maximum mesh sizes for Shrimp Traps. Check your local Fish and Game Regulations for the specifics. In the San Francisco Bay Area, folks have found that 1" mesh seems to be too large for catching our local Coon Stripe or Dock Shrimp. A half inch mesh or 1/2" x 1" mesh is preferred by most Shrimpers here.
How to Rig Your Shrimp Pot?
You'll need a bridlecrab pot bridleA shrimp or crab pot bridle is a length rope tied in two, three or perhaps four places on a pot to function as a harness to tie in a length of rope., a length of leaded line substantially longer than the depth you will be fishing in, a buoy, a bait holder, and a book of local regulations, and you should know how to tie some basic knots.
How Much Weight Does My Shrimp Trap Require?
Generally you want to have enough weight in your Protoco or similar shrimp trap to stay on the bottom even during relatively stormy seasons. Depth, amount of bait, line diameter, material and amount weighted line, wave action, tides, wind, bottom type, and size and flotation of the buoy will determine what weight to use. Here are some weights of current pots I have:
  1. A folding Danielson Crab Pot, zip-tied to make it rigid, with four 1 1/2" diameter chunks of rebar wrapped in PVC tape and zip-tied to the bottom, with harness, and 130 feet of lead core blue steel, and float weighs 26.4 lbs
  2. Protoco with shrimp 31 lbs
  3. Large Protoco Crab Trap not rigged or weighted weighs 26lbs
  4. Protoc small w/ shrimp trap 23lbs no rope or float
  5. Protoco small with rop float rigged with 150' of weighted blue steel and float, and a Protoco Shrimp Trap strapped on weighs 28.6
  6. Protoco small rigged with 150' of weighted blue steel and float weighs 22.8
  7. Protoco small not rigged or weighted weighs 17.2lbs
  8. Shrimp trap 5.7 lbs
  9. Big protoco crab trap with no weight or rigging weighs 20.2lbs
  10. 150' of lead core blue steel line and float weighs 5.6 lbs.
What is the best bait to catch shrimp with?
Canned cat food, old fish heads, fish carcasses, salmon, rockfish, tuna, squid, sand dabs, chicken necks, gizzards, livers, etc. Fresh is best. Bury that old rotten meat in the backyard.
Where Can You Catch Shrimp?
Placeholder
How Deep Are the Shrimp?
Coonstripe Shrimp occupy the area from IntertidallyThe intertidal zone (also known as the foreshore and seashore and sometimes referred to as the littoral zone) is the area that is exposed to the air at low tide and underwater at high tide (for example, the area between tide marks). This area can include many different types of habitats, including steep rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, or wetlands (e.g., vast mudflats). down to 600 feet.
How Long of a Soak?
Most Shrimp do most of their feeding at night. And so, generally an overnight soak is considered a minimum.
How to Clean Your Shrimp?
A lot of folks don't think you have to get rid of the fact that a shrimp is a critter. These folks chuck the whole shrimp in the pot and cook as is, and remove the head, suck out the good bits, and remove the shell and legs and tail only to get to the flesh of the shrimp. Other folks hate the idea that you can tell it's a critter, and so they remove everthing good before cooking, and they even go so far as to "de-vein" the shrimp or in reality remove their poopshoot. I'm of the mindset that shrimp should have minimal processing as the head and shell and feet all add to the general overall goodness of the shrimp.
How to Cook Your Shrimp?
Keep it plain and simple my Daddy used to say. A big pot of boiling salted water is all you need. Or stir fry the shrimp quickly at high heat. Or BBQ quickly. Shrimp only takes a few minutes to cook. Over cooked shrimp will be like rubber. I like the flavor of shrimp as is. Some folks however like to doctor them up to the point where there's no shrimp flavor left.
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Sponsors

Disclaimer: Protoco Inc., is a sponsor of this page, in exchange for advertising and links back to it's site. These are nice folks who sell Made in the USA Crab Pots, Shrimp Pots, and Crawfish Pots. Please consider their products and show your support by mentioning you saw Protoco Products on Fishyfish.

Further Reading About Shrimp and Catching Shrimp

  1. How to rig a shrimp trap
  2. Hood Canal Spot Shrimp
  3. Coon Stripe Shrimp (PDF download)
  4. Coon Stripe Shrimp Images
  5. Coon Stripe Shrimp Images
  6. Dock Shrimp
  7. Collapsible Shrimp Pots
  8. PWS Shrimp
  9. Lobster, Shrimp and Crab Trap Puller
  10. Shrimp Recipes
  11. Shrimp and Grits Recipe
  12. Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Recipe

Shrimp Recipes & Prawn Recipes

  1. Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta Recipe
 
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