Foraging the Evening Shores By: Paul Presson

When most anglers have called it a day, a different breed of nocturnal fishermen and women begin their adventures.  These individuals use different methods, but their bounties can easily surpass that of a daytime angler. These foragers can be found scouring the local flats of the Tampa Bay area. They are easy to spot–just look for that telltale beam of light from their headlamps. This foraging requires skills, knowledge and the proper tools.  This a story about a few such “creatures of the night.”

Jeff is relatively new to this form of hunting.  Using a dip net and a floating bait bucket, he is learning the nuances of inshore shrimping.  He has mastered crabbing and each time he goes out, he brings home enough blue crab for a delicious meal for himself and his family.  Following the FWC regulations, Jeff also harvests different species of fish for his saltwater aquarium.

David has been shrimping the local shores for years. He can easily harvest over a hundred select size shrimp in an evening.  This makes for great seafood dinners and perfect bait for daytime fishing.  He is an example of an angler using ingenuity to conquer needs.  He created a shrimp trap. This innovation is rectangular in shape, constructed using metal mesh attached to a pole.  There is a trap door that is manipulated using a rope connected to the containment section.  David also made a floating container system to hold the spoils of his foraging.

Ray, the most experienced of the three, thrives on this style of fishing.  He uses his kayak to scout the shores and to hold his equipment while wading.  His arsenal to forage the flats includes a bow and arrow, a selection of gigs and, of course, a couple of fishing rod and reels.  He can cover much more ground with the yak and can harvest many more species with the bow and gigs.  Shrimp, crabs, flounder, black drum and mullet are just a few examples of the rewards of his twilight adventures.

Night foraging is certainly not for everyone.  Knowing the terrain that is to be covered is extremely important.  There is no need to wander off into deep waters–thigh high water is perfect.  Knowledge of spawning cycles, moon phases, tides, water temps and winds are all very important in having a successful trip.  Never go it alone–having a partner or a group is paramount for a safe trip.

Nighttime fishing does not require a bunch of expensive equipment.  A good headlamp and sturdy wade booties are a must.  Then, all you will need is a dip net and a bucket to store your treasures of the evening.  If daytime fishing is not your thing, you want to try a new adventure, or it is just too hot to withstand the midday sun, this could be the ticket.  “Nighttime, is the right time.” Get out there and “Forage the Evening Shores.”

Special thanks to the participants:

Jeff Malino

David DeBardeleben

Ray Marinec

Drone Photo Credit:

Jeff Malino