Promising Season Predicted For Mississippi Shrimpers

Mississippi shrimpers are busy getting ready for the start of the season Tuesday.

They're loading their boats with fuel and ice, watching the weather, and counting on predictions for an above average catch.

Shrimp season in Mississippi waters opens at six o'clock Tuesday morning.

Bobby Barnett has been shrimping for nearly 20 years.

"The hard part is getting the boat ready."

Getting ready means loading his boat, "Cajun Maid" , with 500 gallons of fuel, three tons of ice, and dozens of bags of salt. Barnett and crew will be working Mississippi waters for three or more days.

"The shrimp are larger so far, what we've been catching in Louisiana, they're a little nicer so we're hoping their going to be nice. Be a nice shrimp."

Plenty of ice onboard will keep J.J. Lassabe's shrimp fresh. The Pass Christian harbormaster plans his vacation around the opening of shrimp season each year.

"For the opening of the season I like to take three or four days off and go out and play around. It's like a chill pill for me. Get out of this rat race," said Lassabe.

When they drop their nets early Tuesday morning, there will be far fewer shrimpers competing for the catch. Five years ago more than 12 hundred shrimpers cast their nets on opening day. Last year that number had dropped to just over 700.

The shrimp taken from Louisiana waters point to a promising season. These shrimp are good sized, about 57 per pound. And that fishing success in our neighboring state, is reason for optimism here.

Jerry Forte is a seafood dealer at the Pass Christian harbor.

"Yeah, it looks pretty good. They're running a little larger than normal for this time of year. A lot of people like 'em big but sometimes they end quicker like that."

Last year's season was above average. Mississippi shrimpers caught an estimated 15 million pounds of brown shrimp.

Shrimpers will drop their nets at 6AM Tuesday to open the new season.