Let’s take a few moments to talk about the use of shrimp as bait while surf fishing. As a start, for novices and people basically looking to fill up their coolers with Spot, Croaker, Whiting or Pompano it is hard to beat shrimp as a bait. I am not saying you will not catch large fish with shrimp; I am saying that by using shrimp, you are not targeting larger fish. I have caught puppy drum in the surf using shrimp. I hooked him in the suds while fishing for spot. The key to shrimp as bait is to use fresh, never frozen shrimp. Spoiled or dried out shrimp will not result in much, if any success. If you can find them and have a way to store them – use live shrimp!
Shrimp Rigs And Tactics
A two hook bottom rig with small hooks is the best way to fish with shrimp as bait. The best hooks to use range from number 4 to a number 1. Keep your weight light as possible – do use a pyramid sinker. Don’t waste your time with your Hatteras Heaver, use a light rod instead. Fish close to shore. Keep tension on the line -this is the key- when you feel a bite, don’t jerk the line – let fish will hook itself.
Know Your Target Species
One of the most common fish found in the Carolina surf. Overall this fish has a silver color with a gold tint in the background. Sometimes they have wavy vertical lines running along the upper sides. There are small barbels on the lower jaw. They typically weigh in at a pound or two and the meat is quite good.
Keep your bait size small. Do not jerk the rod when you hook one, the mouths are tender and you could pull the hook right out.
A tough (as in a fighter – not the meat) little fish – lots of fun to catch on light tackle. Overall color is silver with a yellow underside. Typical pompano weigh in at one or two pounds, though they can grow up to be larger. One of the tastiest fish you can catch in the surf.
As far as food quality goes – my personal favorite. Looks like a croaker to some degree. Less silvery in color – more brassy – and the tail is more forked. Spot have wavy vertical lines along the upper side of the body and their bottom is white. Look for the distinctive spot behind the gill cover. Typical spot weigh in at a pound or pound and half. When cooking up a classic fish fry, Spot are an excellent choice. Just bread and pan fry. Then serve with a slice of lemon.
Whiting (sometimes called Kingfish) is another abundant surf fish that will take shrimp. Many times you can see these fish swimming along in the surf. More slender of build than a croaker – these fish do have similar barbels on the lower jaw. Overall they are silver in color – with a yellowish tinge along the top. Two pounds seems to be the upper weight limit.
SHRIMP RECIPES (YUM YUM)
3-4 quarts of freshwater
3 -4 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
6 ears of corn – shucked, cleaned and broken in half
1 – 2 lbs of smoked sausage
2 lbs of shrimp ( any size – peeled and deveined)
Add seasoning, sausage and corn to water and bring to a boil in a large stockpot. Let boil for eight minutes. Pour in shrimp, stir and return to boil. Remove from heat and drain when shrimp are done (usually around five minutes) You will know shrimp are done by the pink color. Serve immediately.
1 pound chilled, cooked, cleaned shrimp (remove tails)
1/2 cup ranch dressing (more if you like)
1/2 teaspoon white horseradish sauce
1 Apple – cored, diced to 1/4 inch pieces
8 oz baby carrots – diced to 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup, chopped walnuts or pecans
Old Bay Seasoning to taste
Dice shrimp into small pieces. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Store in fridge until ready to serve. Ok to omit horseradish if you can’t stand the heat.
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Hurricane Double Drop Surf Leader, 30-Pound by South Bend. Click on image to find out more.