How To Catch A Shrimp (and a selection of other seafood)

In all my time on Hilton Head Island, I have never once thrown a cast net.  Surprising, isn’t it?  Maybe not so much to my instructor once he saw my first throw, if you can call it that.  I believe he called it a taco, sadly for me, because it resembled the shape of the Mexican food as opposed to a net that would bring in a selection of the sea’s delights.  Much like I felt about golf the first time I tried it, I definitely underestimated the skill and quickly found that it is harder than it looks.  However, Scott, our instructor, insured me that he has not yet had someone who didn’t get it by the end of the class.  And I was determined not to be his first!

Scott shows us how to use our teeth!

First, Scott Moody, the Coastal Discovery Museum’s resident expert angler, outlined the basics – how to prep the net, how to hold the net (and, yes, it does involve your teeth) and how to throw and release the net.

From there, we were sent out to give it a crack.  As I stepped off to give it a try, I was relying on Scott’s instructions as opposed to beginners luck.

I repeated the steps over and over in my head with each attempt:

Step 1: Connect the net’s line to your non-dominant wrist (I preferred to use my dominant hand – my right – for the throwing portion)

Step 2: Loop the excess rope  in your non-dominant hand

Step 3: Grab the yoke in your non-dominant hand

Step 4: Grab half way down on the net between the yoke and the weights at the bottom with your dominant hand

Step 5: Fold the top half of the net into your non-dominant hand

Step 6: Place the bottom of the net in your teeth (yes, you heard that correctly)

Step 7: With your dominant hand, grab the bottom of the net about an arm’s length from where you have it placed in your teeth.  Make sure that when you grab the net, it opens out in front of you versus having the opening facing your body

Step 8: Wind up

Step 9: Using your whole body, similar to how you would throw a Frisbee, throw the net, letting go of everything except what’s connected to your wrist (you don’t want to lose your net for good).

Step 10: Pull in your prize(s)

By gosh! I think I got it!

After about 7 or 8 tries, I finally got one that looked good.  I would not go down in Scott’s record book as the worst student ever!!!  Everyone from my class succeeded in improving their throwing technique.  Now, it’s up to all of us to continue to work towards perfection.

But, before I left, I was able to get some good insider tips from Scott to share with you:

Start small
It’s easier to learn with a smaller net.  Ideally, look for a net that is about the same height as you.

It’s all about technique
The technique is the same no matter what size net you’re using.

Buttons are bad
Do not wear a shirt with buttons – your net could easily get caught on them.  And, from my experience, I would remove anything, such as jewelry, that could get caught and take away from your throw.

Be aware of your surroundings
Be careful not to throw over rocks or oyster shells to help keep your net intact

Good catch
Looking for a good spot on the Island to practice your cast net throwing?  Check out Pinckney Island’s public boat ramp across US 278 at Last End Point or by the folly at Burke’s Beach.  After you’ve parked at Burke’s Beach and walked down the pathway to the beach, turn right and you’ll run right into the folly.

The one-hour class is $10 per person and is only offered for a limited time (through May).  For more information, click here or to make your reservation, call (843) 689-6767 (extension 223).