Poor Start for Shrimping Season

Gator McDonald on the docks at Lazaretto Creek.
Gator McDonald on the docks at Lazaretto Creek.

The boats are out and the nets are dragging. It's the first day of the shrimping season. So how's the catch? Let's just say it's a good thing they have the rest of the season to make up for what they didn't catch today.

The shrimper who goes by the name of Gator McDonald got the name because he used to wrestle gators. Which might be a little more lucrative these days than his current profession.

"The boat ain't made a dime, ain't made a dime, not today," he told us.

Though he did make about $40 for a bushel of blue crabs.

Gator says he's the oldest shrimper from Savannah down to Saint Catherine's Island, so he's been shrimping for about 40 years. He says he knew the season was off to a bad start when he brought in his first catch, which didn't even total his age.

"We didn't do good at all," he said.

By the way, he's 76.

With the Department of Natural Resources postponing the season's open by a few weeks, coupled with high gas prices and operation costs, shrimpers are already feeling the pinch before the season has a chance to get started.

Right now shrimpers aren't catching enough shrimp to even pay for the gas they've pumped to catch them.

"We just hope and pray we get the right conditions this summer and make us a good season," said Pat Mathews of  Lazarreto Packing Company.

A season shrimpers say has a great chance of picking up in the fall. But for now old timers like Gator, who's trolled these waters for decades, plan to keep trolling until he gets his catch. "We got to go see, we got to go try," he said.

Shrimping season wraps up December 31. It might be extended into January of next year if things don't pick up.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com