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Shrimpers may set out their nets at 6:00 a.m., so they leave the dock around 5:00. Drags typically last three hours, and shrimpers will conduct three drags a day during peak opportunities. The try-net is a small net checked every 25 minutes and used to estimate the catch. "Hauling back" is the term for pulling the nets and dumping the catch on the deck. At this time, captain and crew isolate the shrimp from the by-catch with a culling iron and their fish-gloved hands. Then, while the second haul is under way, shrimp may be sorted by size and headed, depending on whether they will be sold with heads on.
People that catch shrimp are 'shrimpers', and the act of catching shrimp is called 'shrimping'. Strikers are the crewmen on the boat that set up and strike the nets. Common methods for catching shrimp in the United States include otter trawls, cast nets, seines, and shrimp baiting. Trawling involves the use of a system of nets.
"Shrimp baiting" is a recreational shrimping technique. It involves using bait patties, which are a time-release bait, typically concocted of at least fish meal and clay, though shrimperssometimes have a secret concoction for their bait patties. You then put the bait patties in the water, wait a little while for the shrimp to show up, and then throw cast nets over the shrimp to catch them. These nets are typically anywhere from 4 to 10 feet in length when they are unfurled and have a ring of lead weights around the bottom. A lantern is usually placed over the spot where the bait patties have been set out. This helps to attract more shrimp and some of them will even swim up to the light.
A trawler or 'dragger' is usually a wide boat with enough stability that if the net gets caught on the sea bed it won't roll her over. Trawlers are usually big vessels, 50 ft up to around 100 ft or more. There is little comparison between a steel trawler and a modern fiberglass 'trawler yacht'. Then there are trollers, towing near vertical lines with hooks. A troller used to stay out for a week in the open Pacific Ocean until the ice melted or the freezer is full, anchoring out in large groups at night for protection from getting run down by freighters.
Fishing has played an important role in human food gathering for over 35,000 years, but the evolution of fishing boats over the last several thousand years has greatly expanded societies’ ability to feed themselves and presents the modern world with an important source of healthy nourishment.
Of the 4 million commercial fishing boats sailing the seas today, it is estimated that 1.3 million are modern, decked craft with enclosed areas and catch storage or processing holds. Two-thirds of the remaining boats are believed to be traditionally powered vessels, including sailboats and rowboats, that are used by artisan fishers for small scale commercial or subsistence fishing in coastal or island regions, as well as upon rivers and lakes.
Although boats utilized for fishing date from antiquity as evidenced by ancient Egyptian artwork, until the late medieval period boats were generally adapted from other purposes rather than being designed specifically to optimize their ability to function as commercial fishing craft. With the evolution of efficient, purpose-built fishing boats throughout the Renaissance, by the Age of Sail commercial fishing had become a major industry for many northern European seagoing nations. Fishing fleets consisting of hundreds of sailing craft might spend weeks at sea, salting their catch for storage in barrels or transferring them to other sailboats for transport back to shore.