South Carolina shrimp baiting season opens

The 2016 shrimp-baiting season will open at noon on Friday, Sept. 9 in South Carolina waters.

Recreational shrimpers who purchase a shrimp-baiting license can legally cast their nets for shrimp over bait during this season. Shrimp-baiting season lasts 60 days and will remain open until noon Tuesday, Nov. 8. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opens the shrimp-baiting season annually on the last Friday on or before Sept. 15 each year.

DNR biologists reported especially high shrimp numbers in spring 2016 following a warm winter, and a similarly strong fall crop of white shrimp, the offspring of the spring season, is expected.

“Given the relatively mild water temperatures we experienced this past winter, the high abundance of white roe shrimp we started the season with, and the very encouraging results of our ongoing inshore crustacean monitoring efforts, the shrimp fishery this fall has all the makings of a very productive one,” said Mel Bell, director of DNR’s Office of Fisheries Management. “This will be good news for both the commercial fleet who work in our nearshore waters as well as the recreational shrimping community fishing in shallower estuarine waters. If all of the current trends hold this could be a very good year for shrimping in South Carolina.”

Resident shrimp-baiting licenses cost $25, and nonresident licenses cost $500. Licenses may be applied for online or by phone (1-866-714-3611). The catch limit is 48 quarts of shrimp measured heads-on (or 29 quarts heads-off) per boat or set of poles per day, and each boat is limited to a set of 10 poles. When taking shrimp over bait, no cast net may be used having a mesh smaller than one half-inch square measure or one-inch stretch measure. For more information on shrimp-baiting regulations, visit

Post-season mail surveys conducted every year since 1988 indicate that recent total catches have been less than 1 million pounds per season (heads on) after peaking at more than 3.6 million pounds in 1997. Despite the decline in total catch, catch per trip has remained relatively stable, averaging about 20-22 quarts per trip since 2001. The stable catch-per-trip suggests that shrimp abundance has remained relatively good, but fewer licenses and shrimping trips are resulting in a lower overall harvest. DNR biologists recommend that in general, shrimpers should target areas closer to the ocean to avoid smaller shrimp.

DNR law enforcement officers advise baiters not to have bait or poles in a boat that is in the water before noon on Friday, Sept. 9. The public is asked to report violations of saltwater recreational and commercial fishing laws by calling the DNR wildlife hotline number (1-800-922-5431), available 24 hours a day.

Recreational and commercial shrimpers are encouraged to report catches of tiger shrimp in South Carolina to DNR at If possible, reports should include a photograph of the animal along with location and date of capture. Specimens less than 5 inches in length are of particular interest and should be kept frozen prior to donation.