Night shrimping cure for fishing overload

By Bruce McDonald

May 27, 2011 at 10:23 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Randy McDonald picks through 200 pounds of shrimp after a butterfly shrimping trip at Grand Isle.
Randy McDonald picks through 200 pounds of shrimp after a butterfly shrimping trip at Grand Isle.
Last week, a late season cold front pushed through the area and caused low water conditions. Most of the popular areas to fish were inaccessible.

Not to mention, the fish had lockjaw. 

Thanks to a good friend in Grand Isle, my brother, Randy McDonald, and I made a butterfly shrimping trip at night. For two nights, we set out a large wing net from a stationary barge in a narrow canal in the marsh.  Using strong currents from tidal changes, the butterfly net acted like a vacuum catching fish, crabs, broken up pieces of marsh and shrimp.

The two best times of the month to butterfly shrimp are three days before and after a full moon and new moon. 

We lowered the net at sundown, which is the most active time for shrimp movement. Every 30 to 40 minutes the tail of the nets are raised and emptied into champagnes, which hold 60 to 70 pounds of shrimp. On the first run of the night, we unloaded 300 pounds of shrimp. 

The champagnes were brought back to the camp and emptied into a picking box. With two workers on the barge and two workers at the dock, shrimp are caught and separated all night.

The shrimp were loaded into a larger ice chest, which holds 1,000 pounds of shrimp, to be iced down for the night.

The tides started to slow down around midnight and we stopped the operation. On the night, we caught more than 700 pounds of shrimp. The next morning we transported the shrimp to Blanchard's Seafood. Blanchard's operation is amazing to watch.

A large, 12-inch vacuum hose is lowered into the big chest. The shrimp, water and ice are removed and separated. Two samples of shrimp are taken and counted to determine the size of the shrimp. The second night the tides were slightly stronger and we caught more than 900 pounds of shrimp. 

"Shrimping at night is a lot better than pulling a trawl in the daytime,” Randy said. “We beat the heat and I didn't get a sunburn." 

We kept 70 pounds of 15 to 20 count shrimp for our personal use.

View other articles written By Bruce McDonald

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