Where do you do your shellfishing?
Hood Canal and the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 6 (Eastern Bank) and Marine Area 7 West (Spieden Island, Johns Island, White Rock, Waldron Island)
What are you dropping pots for?
Puget Sound Spot Prawns (Big Shrimp!)
What type of pots are you using?
McKay ramp style (Mondo Condo's they're called, 30" octagon, 17" high). These big pots out-fish the smaller ones I've fished. I don't fish the tunnel style pots any more. They stack easier on the boat but fish too slow. For the San Juan’s, I fish 2 pots on the boat as I have all day to fish. Hood canal I will fish 4 pots because the season is only 4 hours long and I don't get to pick the tide/current (WDFW rules: 9am-1pm)
Any special tricks to rigging them up?
They must weight 30lbs. I weigh them. Add weight as necessary. You need the weight to get to the bottom near where you drop them, and to anchor that pot in place on the bottom. 500' of leaded 5/16" rope. I don't use poly/yellow rope because It floats, it's also doesn't coil well when retrieving the pot. You want your buoy's to not be pulled underwater by the current and you don't want your buoys to drag your pot away either. (too much buoy is just as bad as not enough buoy). I highly recommend a pair of LD-2 buoys (each offers 68lbs of buoyancy and low drag). The San Juan’s has a lot of water with substantial current. You want to fish when the current is 1kts or less. A pot puller is required. I use an electric Safe-T-Puller, rated for 100lbs at 110ft per minute.
Care to share your secret recipe for bait?
This bait fishes fast. It creates a cloud of attractant on the bottom. You can not let this sit for more than an hour. It washes away with the current. When you pull the pot up, it should be 1/2 to 2/3rd less full. If it's mostly full, you have it too thick. Add oil and thin it out. I do not freeze my bait for slow-release.
To rebait, I dump out the contents of the bait barrel into the bucket of mixed bait, add in more shrimp attractant fish oil or Alaska Fish fertilizer, mix well, and re-fill the bait barrel again. Don't just "top off" the bait barrel after its sat on the ocean floor for an hour.
How did you get into shellfishing?
I bought a boat and a couple of pots, (a tunnel and a ramp style) and some shrimp bait pellets and invited some friends. We threw the pots overboard with a bag of pellets in them and hand pulled pots with 400ft of rope. We got 24 shrimp the first time out after spending all day trying. We were exhausted. It sucked. We had no idea what we were doing.
Who do you usually go with?
Friends and family. I prefer a boat full of 4-6 people. We are allowed (WDFW rules) 80 shrimp per person per day. 80 shrimp is approximately 10lbs worth.
What do you enjoy about it?
It's a great fishery for friends and family to spend time together on the boat. It's also a numbers game. You always want more shrimp in a single pot on a single pull in less time. Fishing for shrimp is fast. They are either there or they are elsewhere. The shrimp are also able to go back out the door they came in which is another reason to not let your pots soak too long. When we're scouting an area, we would drop pots and let them soak 30-45 minutes. Pull them. If little to no shrimp, move. If it's a decent catch (more than 50) re-bait, and drop all our pots in that area.
How deep are you setting your pots?
240 to 400 feet of water. The current needs to be 1kts or less if in the San Juan’s. You could lose gear trying to fish with the current running.
What’s the biggest haul you’ve had?
302 shrimp, second biggest haul was 247. We pulled up 2 pots, in 60 minutes, with 7 limits of shrimp, and only had 4 people on board. We had to throw 229 overboard. And we had gorgeous weather! Our best day of fishing ever. Typical pots pulled would normally have 118, 131, 116... per pot in 60 minutes.
Do you have any tips to cleaning them?
Pop the heads while out in the field. Freeze them raw in the shell. Use a shrimp deveiner tool to clean them.
Once you haul them in, do you have any cooking tips/recipes/smoking/grilling tips?
Too many to list.
Shrimp Skewers on the BBQ (on a cedar plank).
Our favorite is to just grill them on the back of the boat, with a side of steak. Surf and Turf for dinner.
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