How to Catch & Freeze Shrimp in Beaufort & Hilton Head
Most people around Beaufort use a cast net to catch shrimp. This is simply a round net, usually made out of monofilament, nylon or cotton mesh, with a lot of weights attached to the outer perimeter of the mesh.
A line runs through the center of the net and is attached to another group of lines that are attached to the outer weights. When the net is thrown, the mesh forms a circle, flattening out like a plate. The net sinks to the bottom, trapping whatever shrimp were under the net. The line is then pulled in, thus closing the the net. Most people start with a net between 4' to 5' in diameter at first, as they are much easier to learn to throw.
Where & When to Catch Shrimp
Shrimp can be caught off the bank, pier, dock, or by boat. Tidal creeks during low tides are favorite spots for shrimping. Throw the net 3-5 feet from water line. Be very careful not to throw over oyster beds, or you will ruin your shrimp net. The best time to shrimp is near low tide, when the water has receded from the marsh grass, day or night. The shrimp start getting to be a decent size around September and really big in November. The size of shrimp is often referred to as "count". When you have 24 count, it simply means on an average, 24 shrimp will make a pound. In late November, you can have counts lower than 8. That's some mighty fine size shrimp... and good eating too! Cast nets also are used when baiting shrimp during baiting season.
Preparing & De-heading Shrimp for Freezing
Before freezing you must de-head the shrimp. If you're right handed, you would pick up the shrimp with the right hand, and with the left index finger on one side of the shrimp head and the left thumb on the other side, just pinch the head where it joins the body. (usually right behind the legs). It is very important to remove the entire head and legs as just one left on can spoil all the other shrimp in that container when frozen. What a waste that would be. To freeze, fill the container of shrimp with fresh water and then freeze. Frozen shrimp when prepared properly will last about 1 year. Also see Shrimp Baiting.