Croakers Crazy for Cocktail Shrimp

Cap'n Larry's Sure-Fire Fishing Tips

On a rare occasion, I run into a fishing trick that is so phenomenal and productive that I am very tempted to keep it to myself. However, as the top Chesapeake outdoor and angling writer for all of Southern Maryland, I am burdened to tell all who are wise enough to purchase and read The CHESAPEAKE.

This past weekend, I dropped by Thompson’s Seafood in Mechanicsville to pick up a pound of medium shrimp to fish with on Monday. With the Federal furloughs, the three day weekends have everybody vacationing locally. By Monday, most everyone is tuckered out and resting in their Federal billets, so I get the rivers and Bay to myself.

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As Denise was packing up my shrimp with ice, Paulie Thompson and I got to talking about fishing. Paulie said that he thought shrimp were better than peeler crabs for catching perch and croaker. I agreed with him as I have been telling you this in this humble publication for the past couple years.

Then, Paulie trumped that tidbit of piscatorial awareness. “And, they bite better on cooked shrimp.” he said.

Paulie believes that the red color of the cooked shrimp has something to do with perch and croaker biting better on cooked shrimp.

Into the chilled plastic bag, he tossed three of those nice big cocktail shrimp that Thompson’s Catering is so famous for.

I knew I needed to fish fast on Monday morning because slack tide was around 9:30 AM. At 7:30 AM, I was positioned on the outside edge of my favorite Pax River oyster bar. On one hook, a piece of raw shrimp was impaled. The other hook held a nice firm piece of cooked shrimp. You can slice about five baits out of one steamed shrimp.

Down went the bottom rig weighted with a one once bell sinker. In less than a minute, the rod was well bent and I swung a 15 inch croaker over the rail. Sure enough, it bit on the piece of steamed shrimp. After trying different combinations of raw and steamed shrimp, both top and bottom, I concluded that Paulie Thompson has discovered the bait of the next generation of fishermen in Southern Maryland.

I also concluded that Paulie could have thrown a few more of those good baits into the bag. It wasn’t long before the three cooked shrimp were gone. Then, the fishing slowed. Still, in an hour and a half, I had my limit of Atlantic Croaker with a few perch mixed in.

I don’t know why the fish seem to bite better on cooked shrimp. Personally, I think it has less to do with color than taste. Given the choice, would you prefer to eat a raw shrimp or chomp down on one of Thompson’s steamed cocktail shrimp? Given that same choice, perch and croakers want their seafood also cooked.

There are numerous advantages to using cooked shrimp for bait. You can cut more baits per shrimp. They seem to stay on the hook better. They taste better than bloodworms if you get stranded and have to eat your bait. But, most of all, cooked peeled shrimp catch fish really well.

The proof is in the pics. When did you last catch your limit of 25 croaker? Order up a pound of cocktail shrimp and try Paulie Thompson’s secret recipe for catching a mess of fish.

No foolin’.

Larry Jarboe – bass21292@yahoo.com
Cocktail Shrimp Croakers / The Chesapeake photo