🦐 North Carolina Shrimping: Season, Restrictions & Locations

The shrimping season in North Carolina usually starts sometime between May and June and lasts till December. There are certain restrictions imposed on the size of shrimp that can be legally kept in the state, the maximum harvest limits every day, and trawl size. These restrictions may differ depending on the purpose of harvesting; recreational or commercial.Β 

Types of Shrimps

Generally, there are two kinds of shrimp along the coastline of North Carolina: the brown shrimp, the pink shrimp, and the white shrimp.

Brown Shrimp

The Brown Shrimps start appearing along the coastline in July and lasts till September. They are the most plentiful species of shrimp available in the sea-food market. They are the most active at night and sleep in the daytime. They have a maximum size limit of 9 inches and a time span of 18 months.

White Shrimp

The white shrimps that are also known as β€œgreen tails” start appearing in September and last till the month of November. They are the second most abundant species found in the waters of North Carolina. They are more subtle and sweeter in taste. They are mostly found in the brackish marshes, preferring soft, muddy bottoms. They have a maximum size limit of eight inches and a life span of 24 months.

Pink Shrimp

The pink shrimps are also known as the spotted shrimps. They are also the scarcest species present and are first to be harvested in the spring season. They are available in the markets and oceans from April to June. They too are the most active at night and burrow into the mucky-muck sand during the daytime. They have a maximum size limit of 11 inches and a life span of 24 months.

Maximum Size Limits

The maximum size limit of the shrimp must be 8 inches for legally keeping them in the state. Any shrimp lesser than 8 inches should be returned back to the rivers and must not be kept.

Maximum Daily Harvest Limits

The rules on the daily harvest limits differ based on the type of water. When using a cast net to catch shrimps in the closed areas, the harvest limit per person per day is 100 shrimps. When using a cast net in waters open to shrimp trawling, the maximum daily harvest limit is 48 quarts of shrimps with heads on and 30 quarts of shrimps with head off. If using a vessel in open water and there are two or more people in the boat, then 96 quarts of shrimp with heads on and 60 quarts of shrimp with heads off.

License Requirements

Cast nets are considered recreational gear and there is no license required for recreational shrimping whereas a license is required for commercial shrimping. It is prohibited to sell the fish caught for commercial purposes, the selling and catching of shrimps are not allowed without a license.

Tools Restrictions

There are no such restrictions imposed on the mesh size or the diameter of the cast net used for recreational shrimping in the coastal water of North Carolina. The cast net is allowed to be used all year long in the waters open for shrimp trawling.

Cast Net

Cast net is circular in shape and has weight distributed around it. This net is thrown using hands so the net spreads out in the air before it lands on to the target species. It is repeatedly thrown and retrieved and is very effective in catching marine creatures like fish, shrimps, or crabs. These nets can be thrown from the boat, piers, docks, and from shores.

Trawl Net

A trawl net is a funnel-shaped net that is used to catch shrimps, shellfish, cod, scallops etc. It involves pulling through the water behind the boat. They have a closed tail so that shrimps or any other marine creature cannot escape. This method is used for both commercial and recreational purposes. The boat that is used for trawling is called a trawler.

Best Bait for Shrimps

The bait balls are made with just about anything that a shrimp can eat and is thrown into the water before the cast net. The cast net is thrown after a while, giving bait the time to attract as many shrimps as possible. The best bait balls can be made using a fish meal, flour, cat meal, chicken feed, cornmeal, etc.

Famous Places for Shrimping

The famous places for harvesting shrimp in North Alabama are Pamlico River, East Beaufort Country, Pamlico County, Mississippi River, Manteo, and Louisiana.

Shrimp are usually found in the estuaries and live in the marshes. They live in estuaries when they are young because they are rich in food. They are very quick in their growth and become double in size after every few weeks. They are considered an annual crop and the second most important fishery after the crab industry. The amount of shrimp that grows in North Carolina depends on the weather. In cold weather, there is generally a small population of shrimps in the water.  

There are several ways of enjoying shrimps in North Carolina. You can try shrimp and grits, coconut shrimp, steamed shrimp, fried shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp burgers, shrimp bisque, shrimp tacos, shrimp spring rolls, and shrimp fritters.