Shrimp Baiting and Baited Shrimp
Shrimp baiting is a very popular method of shrimping in the Beaufort area. This involves mixing mud and bait, usually fish meal, and forming into a ball or patty, similar to a really thick hamburger. Every shrimper has their own recipe for the mixture and type of mud used. These are then thrown into the water, and as the shrimp feast on the fish meal, the cast net is thrown near the area where the bait is.
Shrimp baiting is usually done near low tide during the night hours.
How to Catch Shrimp Using Bait
When done from boats, long bamboo, plastic or fiberglass poles are placed about 5-30 feet from the low tide mark and are each spaced about 25 feet apart. The idea is to provide a reference line from the pole to the boat, with the bait near the casting area. Usually 10 poles are allowed, but check as regulations do change. Several bait balls or patties are then dropped about 5-8 feet in front or to the side of each pole. The boat is then maneuvered within throwing distance of the first pole. The net is thrown over the baited area and while pulling in the net, the boat drifts to the second pole. You're now in position to throw the net again and this procedure is repeated at each pole. By the time you reach the last pole, it's time to go back to the first one. This is repeated until your reach your catch limit, the tide comes back in or you get tired. Some people bait shrimp from the dock, bank or pier, although a permit is still required.
Shrimp Baiting License & Permits
You must have a special permit to use this method, and it's best to apply for a shrimp baiting permit well in advance, as it does take some time to process. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources sets the season dates, catch limit, number of poles allowed as well as other requirements for each season. Permits are available after August 1, through the SCDNR. The shrimp baiting season usually begins on the last Friday on or before Sept. 15 and usually lasts about 60 days. Also see Shrimping in Beaufort.