How to Catch Shrimp: Top Tips for Successful Shrimping

How to catch shrimp
Written by Neal Walker

Shrimping is one of the most popular activities in terms of relaxation as well as from the commercial point of view. Amongst the seafood lovers, shrimp is the most favored one, especially in the U.S. and it would be a shame not to know the secrets on how to catch shrimp.

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The rush of the ocean waters coupled with the exhilaration of catching a good amount of these crustaceans can be very rejuvenating for any holidayer or a seafood enthusiast. If you are planning a seaside holiday, then you should engage yourself in this awesome outdoor activity.

In this article, we have carefully laid out all the aspects of catching this savory seafood for a scrumptious meal. Whether you are a newbie or an accomplished catcher, the following tips will improve your skills, the next time you go about foraging for these delicious crustaceans.

Know The Rules

The first and the foremost thing to do before learning how to catch shrimps, it is to buy a rule book of the area in which you are going to hunt for them.

Know the rules

Every area has its set of strict rules and regulations about the specific dimensions of catching tools to be used and the amount of catch limited per individual per day.

All these rules have been carefully formulated for the sustainable management of the fishery industry. Thus, it is the responsibility of every individual to abide by them for the betterment of the industry and aquaculture.

Know Your Tools

The essential tools that you need for catching shrimps have been discussed below.

Catch Net

The most basic tool that you need is a good catch net. It is better to invest in a good quality catch net because it will last you for a long period.

Catch Net

While buying a catch net, you need to take care of the following things.

  • In the market, you will get to choose from a plethora of sizes of catch net. Opting for the best size for your purpose is a key. It is not always advisable to go for the largest size. It is better to choose the size which you can lift very easily. Usually, for a person weighing 65 to 70 kgs, it is easy to handle a 10 foot or smaller net. In conclusion, buy the size which you can physically handle without any difficulty.
  • Always ensure that the net you are buying is properly webbed or taped. Taping keeps the net open while sinking. This ensures that your catch net does not get closed when getting submerged in water.
  • Mesh size of catch net is another important criteria to consider while buying a catch net. An ideal mesh size is 3/8 inch which catches even the smallest shrimp which is only suitable for bait.

However, if you are only looking for big and edible ones, then it is advisable to opt for mesh size like ½ inch, 5 /8 inch. The problem with the smaller mesh size is that you have to pick out the tiny ones from the edible ones.

These small shrimps, when returned to the river, do not survive due to shock. Hence, it is sustainable to use a bigger mesh which allows them to escape and survive.

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Having a good quality net is not enough to complete your path on becoming a great catcher. Spend some time in learning how to throw your catch net before you head out. You can have a look at the following video for learning the basic way of throwing a catch net. In the end, practice is the only way a man can perfect anything.

Attached with the cast net comes a handline for you to grab the net. Make sure that your hand line is relatively longer than the depth in which you are setting the trap.

Shrimp Pot

While cast net is the primary tool and a simple and an effective one, shrimp pot is its more sophisticated version. If you want to make the maximum catch, then you should be familiar with its setup and the way it works.  Compared to cast net, shrimp pot has its technicalities and advantages which are discussed in the following part:

What is a shrimp pot?

Shrimp Pot is a basket-like structure made from the net of various mesh sizes. The size of the pot varies depending on the various sizes and types of shrimps you want to catch. This basket-like structure has funnel-shaped entrance directed inwards.

Shrimp Pot

Thus, shrimps can come inside lured by bait but cannot go outside. The structure comes along with other essential parts that make the whole set up more effective.

What are the various parts of shrimp pot?

  1. Add weight: As the name suggests, it adds weight to the pot so that it remains under water without having the tendency to come up with the effect of waves and storm.
    Protoco sells custom made vinyl coated weights. However, you can use dumbbell weights, old iron weights. The weights are to be tied at the bottom of the shrimp pot uniformly so that it reaches the bottom flatly. If the weather condition is stormy, then more weights are to be used to secure the pot more firmly.
  2. Float and leaded rope: They are used for rigging the entire structure. The leaded rope is attached to the pot at one end which is submerged underwater and the another end is attached to a buoy or a float which bobs and float on the surface of the water.
    It is essential to choose the correct size of the float as bigger float might lift up the pot scaring the trapped shrimps that have been lured in by the bait.
    In many fishing areas like in California, it is mandatory to write your boat hull number in float for identification. It is recommended to paint your float in a vivid color like red for an ease of identification from far away.
  3. Bait: Shrimps are voracious feeders and feed upon zooplanktons, small crustaceans, mollusks, fish remains. You can buy bait pellets from shops. However, you can make your own bait.
    You can use mackerel, tuna, canned cat food, fish carcass, etc., for making your bait. Some people make a mixture of these fresh ingredients, freeze the mixture and keep it for future use.
  4. Anchor: The anchor is attached for extra security so that the whole setup remains in one position even under the effect of strong waves.

Dip net and frame net

Dip net is like a net to catch butterflies but only bigger in size. You can dip this net manually for your catch. Frame Net, on the other hand, is a modified version. It is bigger and comes in a basket-like shape. You can attach it to a pole of your boat and throw it over the water to set the trap.


Sometimes you might be lucky enough to catch plenty of shrimps along the banks of estuaries and rivers. However, if you are planning to explore further, then you need a sturdy boat to take you to the middle of the lake or sea while carrying your equipment and ice filled bucket for storing your catch.

Know The Best Places To Catch Shrimp

It can be a little tricky because the distribution of this crustacean varies all across the world. Some prefer to remain at a few meters below the water surface while some like to explore for food at the bottom of the lakes. Some spawn in plenty in warm water while some like cold water.

See also: Best Handheld GPS for Fishing: Never Let You Miss Out on A Great Catch

There are about 3000 species out of which only 6 species account for 82% of the global catch. Coon stripe type, spot type, southern rough type are some of the most widely distributed species that are caught for seafood.

Best Places To Catch Shrimp

Ocean shores, bays, lakes, rivers creeks, and estuaries are some of the best places to catch them.

Some like Florida pink, brown and ruby shrimps are nocturnal in nature. Setting the trap at night just an hour before the low tide is the best way to catch the nocturnal types. It is advisable not to use white light at night because they shy away from white light.

Green light can be used for the best result. You might have to sacrifice your good night’s sleep but foraging at night surely guarantees you a good catch.

Know The Best Time To Catch Shrimp

Locating the best area is important but knowing the best time is also equally crucial. In that scenario, knowing the tidal conditions is of prime importance. If you are on the wrong side of the tide, then even the best site can give you zero result. Low tide is the best condition for a successful catch.

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A low spring tide which comes in every full moon is the lowest tide and the best time. The local stores near the fishing areas provide tide table. Make use of this table and go for catching an hour before or after the event of low water.

Shrimp Catching Techniques

With the tools discussed above, one can deploy various techniques to catch a surplus amount. The techniques are as follows:

Dipping the net

This is the simplest of all the techniques. Now that you know that what a dip net is, it is time to use it for giving your family some delicious seafood to eat. Shrimps move in a large group on the upper level of water of estuaries, creeks and ocean shores with the outgoing tide.

The best way to catch them is to dip your net. When you see them, slowly move your net in their path without startling them and leave the net up. Repeat this process to get the maximum amount of catch.

Frame net technique

Besides repeatedly dipping, to increase the catch use the frame net technique. Attach your frame net to your boat’s pole and extend it and dip it in water for to collect those that you can’t catch by dip net technique.

Bait technique

For this technique, you need a shrimp pot.

Bait technique

It is a passive way of catching and is done in the following steps:

  • Attach the weighted line to the pot.
  • Add weights to the pot according to the requirement of the depth in which you want to catch shrimps. Add more weights for deeper water.
  • Add a necessary float to the other side of the weighted line.
  • Place the appropriate bait in the bait box.
  • Open the trap door.
  • Locate the area with the maximum population.
  • With the measuring line or an electronic device, measure the depth of water.
  • Take the pot overboard and let it sink.
  • Keep the pot underwater for 12 hours.
  • Due to the funnel-shaped trap door directed inwards, shrimps cannot come outside and thus get trapped.
  • After 12 hours, Carefully bring the trap to the surface and collect your catch. You can again dip the same trap with fresh bait for another round.


  • If you are exploring that safe looking shallow without any safety then it is a major mistake you will be making. You should always wear a waterproof beach shoe for your safety. The sting from that weever fish lurking in the shadow can be a great shock if you go tinkering about barefooted. For more tips on how to properly waterproof boots, check out our earlier post on this great topic.
  • While exploring that lagoon or creek you should always be careful of the incoming tide and check for weather forecasts before venturing out.
  • If you are a complete newbie, then you should start with an easy beach with lots of people and lifeguards around.
  • You should always carry your mobile phone with you for emergencies.

Let’s Go Shrimping

Shrimping is a great recreational activity that everyone should get involved in once in their lifetime. With all the tips and information shared, you must be quite knowledgeable and confident at the end of this article.

Now, pick a good day and a lucrative area, grab those tools and go out for an adventure. We suggest you go and get some blood rushing to your heart with this amazing outdoor sport and you will definitely not get disappointed.

Are you a newbie in fishing? Do read our article on the beginner’s guide to catch fish to learn more.


Neal Walker

Neal Walker started fishing when he was 4. His father took him to the fishing trips all over USA and Canada. Later he took Angling Education Program at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, but most of his knowledge comes from experience. Now he takes his sons with him to share his passion.