How to catch shrimp is the question you need answered now that you’re all fired up and ready to harvest your own. Current Alaska Department of Fish & Game regulations allow us to fish up to three pots per vessel, of which only two may be fished in areas of the western sound including Culross Passage, Cochrane Bay, Blackstone Bay, Passage Canal and most of Port Wells.

how to catch shrimp

by Nick Olzenak

One pot is plenty if you spend time in the Sound on a regular basis, but maximizing your effort by fishing two pots in the western sound will certainly increase the chance of filling the freezer faster!

Shrimping Gear You’ll Need

When it comes to catching shrimp, some basic gear is needed. You can buy pre-made set ups of floating and sinking line combos right off the shelf. 750 feet of line total is plenty for most of us, though some folks like to use 900 feet or more. I choose to use 750 feet of line that includes 300 feet of floating and 450 feet of sinking.

I prefer to fish two pots per string when I have a good spot that is productive and fishing well. Choosing the right pots comes down to two things; your budget and the precious real estate on your boat. I have fished every imaginable pot that I have seen and, in my opinion, it comes down to technique more than the shape or size of the pot. I think there may be some real science behind giving shrimp plenty of room for activities, but with that said I have stuffed budget minded, space saving (nesting) round pots to the brim with beautiful PWS shrimp!

how to catch shrimp

Shrimp Lines

Pre-made shrimp lines come with beckets (loops spaced 50′ apart) and usually have room for three to four pots. I like to fish two pots spaced 100 feet apart so I am covering more area. The beckets make it easy to attach your pots with a stainless steel longline clip so you can easily put pots on and take them off the line. It also decreases the chances of losing gear.

Make sure your pots are weighted, either with some heavy chain or rebar so that once they hit the bottom they stay put,. Ocean currents are no joke and while the food moves around you want your pots to stay securely where they land. This also helps prevent loss of gear from a strong surface blow against your buoy dragging the pots off a ledge into an abyss.

Buoy Tricks and Nuances for Shrimping

At the top of the line you’ll want at least one A-3 buoy. I use an A-3 attached to a smaller buoy or extra old boat fender with a floating line. This set up makes it easier to pick your pots up when its time and it also sets your buoy apart from others out there. It can be confusing when it’s time to find your buoy and pull your pots when they all look the same. How to catch shrimp is pretty basic, but these tricks and nuances should be helpful.

Mark your buoy with the information required by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (found on your shrimp permit) as written. Each buoy must have the fisher (first initial, last name) the address, and the name or AK numbers of the boat used to fish the pots. Phone numbers are also recommended. Anything less than this can result in pots being pulled for not following regulations and can frequently be checked by Alaska State Troopers.

Time for bait! I have shrimped with everything from Dorito Chips (when I’ve run out of bait) to homemade “gravy” and everything in between. Now my go to is shrimp pellets bought right off the shelf at Alaska Mining & Diving Supply. It makes how to catch shrimp simple, easy, and very effective! I like to stuff bait jars ½- to ¾ full with plenty of holes in for a test or a half day soak. I fill them to the brim for overnight or longer soaks. DON’T dump your pellets when you pull your pots. Top them off with fresh bait, but there is no reason to waste what’s left. You’ll know when it’s not working anymore…it will be gone!

How to locate shrimp

Like all fishing everyone has their own strategy. Mine is simply, look STEEP and DEEP 99% of the time! Shrimp move up and down in the water column throughout the day and night. Spot Shrimp can be found and caught anywhere between six and 1500 feet! My most productive secret shrimp holes are on knolls in 350- to 450 feet of water. It’s not always near shore as some of these pinnacles have lots of other food sources moving by them with strong currents.

Near Whittier the water is extremely deep so using the steep and deep method is the best strategy near to shore, freshwater inlet or visible rockslides. Water anywhere from 300- to 600 feet seems to yield the most productive catch. Keep a log of your timing, tides, weather, etc. Reviewing these details will help you track when the bite is best, Then repeat what works best for you!

how to catch shrimp

How to Catch Shrimp

Other important tips and strategies to improve your shrimping experience and improve your shrimp catching odds.

  • Weight your pots.
  • Always use floating line at the bottom of your string.
  • Use GOOD bait!
  • Once you start pulling your set, do not stop! If you pause for too long, the little Houdini shrimps can escape!
  • Become really good at coiling your line, making it easier to re-set your gear. This is especially important if you hit the mother load and want to shrimp the same spot.
  • Properly mark your buoys.
  • Check your chart for obstructions, depth, drop offs. Verify it with a depth sounder, then re-verify and mark your GPS!
  • Setting “uphill” seems to increase catch and reduces the chances of a snag or pots falling into the depths off of a ledge.
  • Have a 5 gallon bucket with cold salt water ready to house your prize.

Nick Olzenak is the General Manager of Alaska Mining and Diving Supply and the Publisher of The Cruising Guide to Prince William Sound. One of Nick’s favorite pastimes is spending it with his family exploring Prince William Sound.

Looking for more Guides to Fishing in Alaska? Check out Fish Alaska’s How-To Archives.