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It’s time to start thinking about shrimping season.  What is the kayaker supposed to do?  The way I see it you have 2 options; either call and bug everyone you know until you find a partner with a boat, or take the kayak and use the one pole method.

I first learned about the one pole method two years during shrimp baiting season.  It was developed as a way to shrimp solo when no partner was available.  Reading through the description again and again led me to believe that with a few changes this would be the perfect method to bait shrimp from a kayak.  This is how I do it.

You don’t need anything special to shrimp from a kayak other than the ability to throw a cast net.  Yes, it is possible to cast net from a sitting position.  You just need to use a different load to get the net to fully open.

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With that said, I prefer to shrimp from a kayak that is stable enough to stand in, so I use either the Wilderness Systems Ride 135 or the new Wilderness Systems Commander 140.  My 48 quart cooler fits perfectly in the rear well on either of these kayaks.

This works great very early in the season when the shrimp are still moving in and out of the creeks.  As the season wears on you will follow the shrimp closer to the inlets and the ocean.  Take note of the VISICarbon Pro kayak light.  Remember that a light visible from 360 degrees is required for kayaking after dark.

How you set up depends on the water depth.  Whenever possible I like to be shallow enough to use my 6 foot long stake out stick instead of an anchor.  I set the stake out stick, clip on to the short tether, and shuttle it to the bow using the anchor trolley.  In deeper water, set your anchor and pay out about 10 feet of extra rode, then shuttle the rode to the bow of the kayak using your anchor trolley.  The extra anchor rode allows the kayak to take swells and boat wakes without any jerky movements that could tip you out.

Set your pole about two feet off the stern of the kayak and tie the stern to it using a short 5 foot tether.  The pole serves two purposes.  It is required to display your shrimp baiting tags and it provides a reference point to be sure that the kayak is not moving.  If the kayak is moving because of wind and current, shorten the anchor rode two feet at a time until the kayak stays stationary.  Keeping the kayak stationary is a key factor in consistently covering the bait spread with the cast net.

Make an easy cast with your net off each side of the kayak.  This gives you an idea of where the net will land so that you know where to toss the bait balls.   Start with two small bait balls on each side of the kayak, then wait 10 minutes before making a test cast to see if there are shrimp in the area.  If you catch shrimp on the test casts, toss five or six bait balls on each side of the kayak into an area that is about two thirds the diameter of the cast net spread.  If you don’t catch many shrimp in your test cast, wait 5 more minutes, then try again.  If you don’t catch many shrimp in the second test cast, move to a new spot and start over.  Time spent locating the shrimp with a couple of test casts will save your shoulder later.

Once you are on the shrimp throw your cast net on each side of the kayak about every ten minutes.  This is a nice leisurely pace that doesn’t wear you out and allows for some quiet fishing time in between throws.  Empty the net into the sorting basket to pick out crabs, puffer fish, squid, weeds and other by-catch, and then empty the sorted shrimp into the cooler.  On a good night it takes 50 to 75 casts to fill a cooler, on a really good night it can be as few as 30.

  

How do the costs stack up?

Shrimp baiting license, $25

Bait, $30

Cast net, $60 – $125

Bringing home a cooler full of fresh South Carolina gold, PRICELESS

 

About the author:  Tommy Samuels is the owner / operator of Kayak Fish SC, a kayak fishing guide service located in Charleston, SC.  You can email Tommy at TooBusy@KayakFishSC.com

In the pictures I’ve set up next to a grass bank at a creek mouth.

 

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