Spot shrimp, also known as prawns, are the largest shrimp in Puget Sound and may grow to nine inches in length. May is the month that fishers and their families head to the Canal to try their luck at catching these these tasty morsels. Fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day and a valid fishing license is required.
Hood Canal (Marine Area 12) opened May 5 for all shrimp species. Open days continue May 9, 12 and 23 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Over 80 shrimp species inhabit Washington waters. However, only seven species are regularly captured for consumption by sport harvesters. Almost all sport shrimp harvest takes place in Puget Sound or its connecting waters. Puget Sound shrimp spawn in late summer. Eggs develop in the female prior to spawning, and can be seen as a dark band just under the shell. Newly hatched shrimp larvae are small (about 3/16 of an inch, or 5mm), planktonic (free floating, unable to swim against currents), and bear only a superficial resemblance to adults. About three months after hatching, larvae start to take on the appearance and habits of adults. The larvae continue to develop, maturing as males within 18 months of hatching. They reproduce as males for one or two seasons before transforming into females for the next fall’s mating season.
The proportion of shrimp changing sex from male to female varies from year-to year. A few individuals will skip the male phase and spend their entire lives as females. Recent studies indicate that increased fishing pressure or high natural mortality can induce males to change into females at a younger age, or completely skip the male phase.
Shrimp are found primarily on or near the bottom, but make daily migrations through the water column in search of food. They have been found at depths greater than 1,000 feet, but are most frequently captured at depths of 30 to 300 feet. Adult shrimp are omnivorous, feeding on marine worms, small crustaceans, large planktonic organisms, sponges, and dead animal and plant material.
For information on sport shrimp seasons and license information visit wdfw.wa.gov.