BI spot shrimp season extended another day

Try not to lose your head, but the fishing season for the “best shrimp you’ve ever had” just got extended.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced May 29 that there will be an additional last-chance opportunity to catch spot shrimp, a Pacific Northwest seafood delicacy, in certain areas of Puget Sound — Bainbridge waters included.

DFW shellfish managers found that the stock of spot shrimp is hearty enough to support a tiny bit more recreational fishing — up to three days in certain areas. But Marine Area 10, which includes BI and Elliot Bay, is under a strict time constraint: the zone will be open for all shrimp species from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 13 only.

“Challenging weather on the opener earlier this month likely lowered the expected harvest, resulting in some added days to the schedule,” said Aaron Dufault, DFW Puget Sound shellfish manager.

The California (or Alaska, depending on where you are) spot shrimp is the largest species of prawn in Puget Sound and one of the most abundant crustaceans in state waters. They are hard to miss: mature shrimp can be a bright orange or pink hue, with a dashing white stripe next to each eye and a pair of white spots near the tail. A single prawn can be up to 9 inches long, not including the antennae.

And since they taste like “a combination of the best lobster and freshly churned butter,” said Molly Watson for The Spruce; they go for $35 per pound at Pike Place.

“Spot prawns taste like the best shrimp you have ever had,” Watson wrote. “The texture is delicate, almost buttery, providing a sort of melt-in-your-mouth sensation, and the flavor is sweet, fresh and briny.”

Their legal fishing season is in spring, usually for a short window in May. Anglers in each marine area of the Sound only get one or two days to fish for spot shrimp, and occasionally, their season is cut short. Case in point, the Tacoma/Vashon Island marine area will not see any additional fishing time because returns this season were “particularly poor.”

In Washington, the daily limit is 80 spot shrimp with a total daily weight limit of 10 pounds of all species combined. It’s common practice for some shrimp species to be decapitated in the field, including spot shrimp, but any other species’ heads must be kept and disposed of properly upon return to shore, per state regulations, and the weight limit includes the whole shrimp.

For details, visit the WDFW website.