The Best Times to Go Shrimping in Florida

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Variety and abundance make Florida a shrimp lover's paradise.
Variety and abundance make Florida a shrimp lover's paradise. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

While at least one of the four dominant Florida shrimp species are available for catch year-round, each has a season lasting a few months when they are at their peak of taste and plentifully available. With hundreds of miles of warm water coastline that borders the oceanic habitats frequented by shrimp, Florida is one of the preeminent places to take out a boat or pick a spot on the dock to cast a net in search of fresh supper product.

Brown Shrimp

The peak season for catching brown shrimp in Florida is June through August, although the warm winters in Southern Florida can bring good runs in January, February, March and April. This type of shrimp runs in color from brown to olive green, distinguishable by a pair of antenna that are longer than its body and a sort of sharp-tipped spear mounted above its head. During season, brown shrimp can be found on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the state, as well as in the Keys. Meat from this species of shrimp has a firmer texture and stronger flavor due to higher iodine content.

Pink Shrimp

Pink shrimp reach their peak during two different times of the year. The first is from March to May. The shrimp become abundant again during the months October through December. Pink shrimp are found more often in the southern Florida waters, especially in the Keys, giving rise to the term "Key West Pinks." This species of shrimp tends to grow the largest and has a tender, sweeter taste to its meat than the others. Pinks are the most abundantly caught Florida shrimp.

Rock Shrimp

August through October are prime shrimping months for rock shrimp. Rock shrimp are caught in deeper water, primarily off the Atlantic coast of the state. While rock shrimp meat has the same sweet taste of its brown, white, and pink cousins, its firmer texture makes a comparison to lobster meat somewhat appropriate. The name "rock shrimp" comes from the tough shell exterior that is much harder than other shrimp species.

White Shrimp

On the northern Atlantic coast of Florida, white shrimp are at their peak for capture August through November. Despite the name, whites are actually more of a green-gray to blue-gray color. They turn the typical pink hue when cooked. Wild caught white shrimp have a sweet, firm texture to their meat that holds up well under a variety of recipes and cooking conditions, making it a favorite with chefs, locals and tourists alike. These shrimp spawn in the deeper ocean but are carried by tides and currents into coastal river mouths, bays and estuaries to mature just in time to land on a seafood lover's dinner plate.

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