It’s official, shrimp season has begun, and if you were out on Highway 90 Wednesday, it was no secret. Shrimp boats filled the Sound as far as the eye could see. Shrimpers began at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, catching the first batch of Mississippi Gulf shrimp.
For John Guidry and his family, shrimping is a way of life. On the first day of shrimp season, they struck gold on their small boat while shrimping in the Mississippi Sound. Guidry says, "Forty five minutes and probably one of the best drags I ever did in my life." The load was so heavy that Guidry had trouble bringing up his net. Thankfully, he had help from his father, John Sr., and his first mate. Guidry also says, "You got a little bit more than 50 there. This is a lot more than 50 pounds and 50 shrimp."
Many shrimpers traveled more than four hours by boat from Louisiana to test the Mississippi waters. Jared Danos, another shrimper, says, “At the house it’s kind of slacked off. It kind of slowed down, so we came over this way." Shrimp boat captains say gas prices are relatively low, but expect them to increase at the season continues. Danos also says, "Slightly down, slightly down than last year, but I hear the oil prices are rising."
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) expects an above average 2014 shrimping season and will be out making sure shrimpers are following Mississippi guidelines. Jamie Miller, the Director of the M.D.M.R., says, "We talk to the shrimpers about the concerns they have, make sure they understand the regulations. If they’re shrimping in Mississippi waters for the first time, but many families and shrimpers have been here year after year, so they have a good relationship with our enforcement arm."
This year's opening day was a little different than last year. The first day's catch in 2013 was down due to heavy rains in April and May. This year, Miller says that nets are showing 36/40 counts, which is larger than years past. According to the M.D.M.R., 368 shrimp boats were out in the Gulf Wednesday, the most since 2005.