Special Correspondent Caleigh Jensen took a trip to “Shrimp Camp” with her family out of Whittier. Here is her story. –Scott
Ever since I can remember, my family has been going shrimping in Whittier in mid-May to fill the freezer with shrimp tails and fish to enjoy throughout the winter. Sometimes it even lands on my birthday. Lucky me, right? Well, not exactly.
“Shrimp Camp” has always been “no girls allowed” and the #1 rule is “what happens at Shrimp Camp, stays at Shrimp Camp.”. But this year, we started a new tradition: Shrimp Camp, Girls Edition, and I finally got to see what it was all about.
With our boat packed full of a weekend’s worth of family, food and fishing gear, we left the harbor in Whittier and made the two-hour trek to Harrison Lagoon, where the cabin we rented awaited.
We unloaded our insane amount of stuff inside (I was told to pack light, but it’s an impossible task), then went to set the pots.
I can’t tell you the exact location of our secret spot, but we dropped our three square pots 400 feet down in Harrison Bay. We let them soak for a few hours while enjoying a dinner of chili and baked potatoes back at the cabin. The weather was insane — like shorts and a tank top hot — without a cloud in the sky. We soaked it up in our lawn chairs by the lagoon as much as we could before we had to face the rain that would inevitably take over for the rest of the weekend.
At around 11 p.m., we pulled up our pots for our first haul of 75 spotted shrimp. As the newbie on the boat, I was tasked with pulling in the 600 feet of line with the help of the pot puller (I’m not going to lie, it still made me a little sore), helping fill them back up with bait and ripping the heads off as we headed back to camp for the night.
I didn’t make it up in time for the 5 a.m. pot-check the next morning (it may or may not have been on purpose), but we got another 125 tails and 50 more after we enjoyed a breakfast of bacon, sausage and eggs. Next, we ventured to Esther Passage to spend the day catching rockfish. We reeled in a couple of yelloweye, copper, quillback and dusky. I’m not trying to brag, but my yelloweye was DEFINITELY the biggest. Maybe this is why no girls are allowed — we’ll outfish them!
Back at the cabin, we cooked up some of our fresh shrimp drowned in butter and garlic, along with steak and mashed potatoes for dinner, and sat around the fire together. The taste of shrimp fresh out of the water is unbeatable. I can’t believe I missed out on it all these years.
After a morning of packing up, a black bear and whale sighting and a few more hauls, we headed back to the harbor. I’m hoping they’ll rethink the “no girls allowed rule” after we finished with around 600 tails. They fit into five one-gallon Ziplock bags. It was a weekend full of good memories, good laughs and good food. I’d tell you more, but you know what they say — what happens at Shrimp Camp, stays at Shrimp Camp.
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