How to trawl for shrimp

Shrimp are caught for the consumer market or personal use through a fishing method called trawling. Trawling refers to pulling nets across the bottom of a body of water. Boats equipped for shrimp trawling are called trawlers. The size of the trawler and the type of rigging depends upon where the boat will trawl for shrimp and personal preferences of the fishermen. Inland fishing in bays and rivers is regulated by state laws and typically allows a relatively short shrimping season. Offshore shrimping in federal waters allows a longer season. A power boat can be rigged for inland shrimp trawling.

Check your boat specifications against the requirements for the waters you intend to shrimp. Inland shrimping requires a 7 m to 15 m (25 to 50 foot) boat with a shallow draft. The engine must be at least 75 horsepower to pull the shrimp net. Contact the department of marine fisheries in the state where you plan to fish for additional information.

Consult with local shrimp fishermen or trawl net shops for the proper net type for your intended shrimping location. Typical nets are balloon-type, semi-balloon and flat.

Purchase and attach doors to your power boat. Match doors and nets according to recommendations of supplier.

Attach the net - with its gear of boards and floats - to the doors using the supplied bridles, lines that attach on one end to the door and on the other end to the net. Position the net gear in the stern of the boat with the portion of the gear that will be first in the water on top and last in the water on the bottom.

Install a cull box according to instructions of supplier or local fishermen with experience with your chosen type of cull box. The cull box is used to store the fish and non-shrimp marine life that gets caught in your net and needs to be discarded.

Face your boat away from the current and run the engine in neutral or turn the engine off.

Throw out the buoy behind the boat, feeding the line out as the boat drifts in the current.

Cast the net into the water, followed by the tickler chain. Tickler chains stir up the shrimp so they move and get caught in the net.

Allow the boat to drift until the net and lines are fully extended behind the boat. It is important not to put the engine in gear until the net and net gear are safely away from the boat to prevent getting the net caught in the propeller.

Start the engine and tow at a rate of 2.5 to 4 knots. Limit the first tow to 15 minutes. Turn off the engine and pull in the net. Shake your catch into the cull box for sorting after the net is recast. Place shrimp in coolers.


Increase length of tow time according to the weight of shrimp being caught. Do not tow too long and catch more shrimp than you can haul into the boat.


Use safety goggles, rubber gloves and other protective clothing to prevent injury from marine life.

Things You'll Need

  • Diesel or gasoline-powered boat
  • Shrimp net
  • Trawl doors
  • Cull box
  • Coolers
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Rain gear
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About the Author

For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.