If you are by a coastline in Florida, there is most likely a bait shop that sells shrimp not far from you. Most of these bait shops have live and frozen shrimp anywhere from $2 to $5 a dozen. Considering just about every carnivorous fish in the ocean will eat shrimp, it is a great bait to use.
Fishing with Live Shrimp
When fishing with shrimp, live is always the best. This is the most effective bait period (as far as most catches compared to other baits). If you have the choice go with live shrimp over frozen.
Upside to Live Shrimp
Widely available. Most bait shops have them in stock because they are good sellers.
Say on the hook. They are harder than frozen shrimp so they are less likely to fall off the hook.
Work better. The smell, motion and noise made by live shrimp attracts fish.
Downside to Live Shrimp
Keeping them alive. Shrimp need the right temperature and air to stay alive. You either need a bait bucket that you can keep in the water, or one with an aerator / cooler.
More expensive. Although very affordable, they are more expensive than frozen shrimp.
Fishing with Frozen Shrimp
You can buy frozen shrimp by the bag at almost any bait shop. These shrimp usually come from the shrimp that die in the live shrimp tank. The bait shop simply pulls them out and freezes them.
Upside to Frozen Shrimp
Easy on your budget. They are very inexpensive compared to other baits.
Most readily available bait to buy. You can find them at any bait shop and many general stores.
Convenient. You can keep them in your freezer and take them out when you need them. They are easy to transport and can be frozen again if you don't use them all (freezing and thawing is not recommended too many times, as the shrimp will become soft and fall off the hook).
Downside to Frozen Shrimp
No movement. Since they are dead, you will not attract the eye of predator fish looking for movement.
Easy to steal. They are softer, so many fish can nibble the shrimp off without you noticing.
Fall off the hook. Again the are softer, so they have a tendency to fly right off the hook.
There are many ways to hook a shrimp. My favorite way is to hook them through the body with the hook coming out through the head on the bottom side. Using a bait hook is best for this method. Hooking them on the tail can lead to them flying off. You can also hook them directly through the head (try not to hid the dark area, which is the brain).
Techniques for Fishing with Shrimp
Popping Cork Bobber
Hook the shrimp on a jig head and leave about 20 inches of line between the hook and the bobber. Simply cast the bobber and give it three pops right away, then just slowly real and pop.
Rig-up a shrimp on a hook with a split shot sinker an slowly walk up and down the dock or pier, slowly jigging as you go. This will lure any big fish that are lurking under the dock.
Shrimp are one of the best baits you can use, whether they are alive or frozen, for inshore saltwater fishing. You can find live shrimp in just about any bait shop all through the state and you can find frozen shrimp in even more locations.
Shrimp occupy most inshore and coastal areas in enormous numbers around the state. For many fish, they are a primary food source and for almost all others, shrimp are a secondary food source because any non-vegetarian fish will eat shrimp. Given their popularity among most fish as a food choice, they are widely used as a first choice.
Frozen shrimp are the most widely available bait. Any shrimp that die in the holding tanks for live shrimp are bagged and frozen in bait shops at a discounted price. They can also be picked up directly from a distributor and their quality range from freshly frozen to shrimp that been thawed, which are reduced in quality.
Advantages of using frozen shrimp are that they are less costly compared to live shrimp, they are easier to transport, as they can be stored in any container and thawed when ready for use.
The disadvantage of frozen shrimp is that they come off the hook easily due to the softened meat and shell as a result of freezing, they attract more bait thieves because smaller fish can eat them without you knowing it and they show no live action so they cannot attract the attention of fish that are on the lookout for their prey’s movements.
Live shrimp are easily found in almost all bait shops near the coastline and are caught in the Gulf of Mexico and shipped across the state for bait use.
Benefits of live shrimp as bait include their availability in most bait shops, they cannot be easily taken by bait thieves, compared to their frozen counterparts, and the noise and movement they bring about while on the hook attracts fish even from further distances.
The cons are that during the cold weather it can be hard to find them as they dig under the sand, keeping them alive can be hard given that they need to be aerated, and/or temperature regulated bait buckets or even flow-through bait buckets that are kept in water plus they are more expensive than frozen shrimp by up to 3 times the cost of frozen shrimp.
Tips for hooking when fishing with shrimp
If you hook a shrimp through the tail or top of the head instead of the mouth live shrimp will last longer.
Live shrimp should not be hooked via the brain which is the area behind the shrimp’s horn which looks darker.
Use a circle hook when fishing with shrimp so you don’t have to set the hook but just reel it in making it better for the fish.
Shrimp kick backwards when evading fish so consider this when using live shrimp for bait.
Exposing your circle hook will help you get more hookups but it can draw weeds as well so ensure your hook placement is appropriate depending on your fishing location.