Story + Photos by Collins Doughtie
Knowing that the theme for this issue is Haunted Lowcountry, I decided that creepy-crawly shrimp would be the perfect fit. Why shrimp you ask? Have you ever been flounder gigging at night in late October around these parts? Maybe not, but from my experience drifting along the shoreline in the pitch black with the only light being a spotlight shining on the bottom so you might see the cleverly camouflaged outline of a flounder, there are thousands of brightly glowing eyeballs everywhere!
It’s unnerving at first until you realize that those eyes belong to Lowcountry Gold (aka shrimp). Since I sometimes guide newcomers fishing, half of them won’t even reach in the bait bucket to grab a live shrimp. They might flick you with their tail or poke you with the sharp horn on their head but, hey, I would do much worse if you tried putting a hook in me.
How to catch a pumpkin full
Only two things might stop you from catching shrimp — a bad back or false teeth. Using a cast net is the only way, and they can be difficult to master. They are heavy, and because you have to hold a small section of the net in your teeth, denture wearers beware. Twice while I taught how to throw a cast net, my pupils neglected to tell me they had dentures and upon throwing the net, their teeth went with it to the briny depths, which I assume is quite costly. If you are a beginner, I suggest a 5’ or 6’ net. Go at dead low tide and throw along the shoreline. Because of limited space to write, I won’t go into deep-dropping cast nets, which is a whole different animal and way more strenuous.
Shrimp don’t reach eating size until mid-September, with October being the best month for big ones. A SC Saltwater license includes shrimping. There are two seasons, the first from May 1-Dec. 15 with a daily limit of 48 quarts of whole shrimp or 29 quarts of headed shrimp per boat. The second is from Dec. 16-April 30 with a limit of 12 dozen per boat.
Everybody loves fried or boiled shrimp, but pickled? This is my family’s guarded recipe, but I am feeling generous. One tip though, they get better every day they are refrigerated.
Secret family recipe – Collins Doughtie
2 1/2 pounds raw shrimp
1/3 cup mixed pickling spice
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 bottle cappers with juice
Fresh ground pepper
Directions  Boil raw shrimp in water seasoned with celery tops, Tabasco sauce, Worchester sauce and pickling spice. Only boil until shrimp turn pink (about 2 minutes). Strain off water only.  Peel shrimp. In shallow dish, alternate a layer of shrimp with a layer of the thinly sliced red onions. Shrimp, onion, shrimp, onion.  Mix vegetable oil, cider vinegar, pepper, celery seed and capers with juice. Mix well and pour over shrimp/onion layers. Cover dish and refrigerate for at least two days, stirring once daily. Using tooth picks or greedy fingers, it’s the best!