Last month I touched on shrimp. This month, let’s get serious about shrimp.
Shrimp migrate in and out of our South Florida inlets from November through April. The biggest are usually seen in January, but they are really late this year.
As the shrimp move up and down the bays and through the inlets, they draw a lot of interest from predators. Drifting live shrimp under bridges can produce dozens of species on any evening. Floated near the surface, the action may come from tarpon, moonfish, ladyfish and assorted jacks. At mid levels the action leans toward sea trout and mackerel. Near the bottom the main attraction is snook and snappers. Special treats can include flounder and pompano as well as grouper.
The inlets produce the same predators, but trout are less common. That’s no problem as trout are replaced by sheepshead and cobia.
Once out in the open ocean big tarpon, mackerel, kingfish and a wide variety of jacks come into play. All species of snappers, grunts, hogfish and porgies are there for the taking. The list just doesn’t end.
In very deep ocean, shrimp will produce tuna, tripletails and mahi. Even swordfish eat shrimp.
Then there is the ultimate shrimp eater, the bonefish.
Your trip will always be improved by starting with live shrimp. Almost all the fish mentioned will eat live shrimp. If casting any style of jig, a pea sized piece of a live shrimp will increase your action. For predators like tarpon and mackerel, a hook through the head of a live shrimp, while avoiding the dark spot which hosts all the vital organs will offer good swimming action. For bottom fish or bonefish, cut off the tail and thread your hook in the open tail and out the belly or back of the shrimp.
If you want to be convinced on why to start with live shrimp instead of the frozen variety, then cut some shrimp up on a cutting board and observe the opaque blue blood that gels on the cutting board.
One last thing. While bottom fishing or targeting bonefish, chop up a couple of shrimp periodically and throw the chunks into your fishing area. This will help bring the fish in for a closer look at your main offering.
CAPT. BOUNCER SMITH
Bouncer’s Dusky 33