2021 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season

pulling up a 125 count pot

Shrimpers…Drop…Your…Pots! (read like “start your engines!”). We have another awesome spot shrimp season in the Puget Sound. Checkout this blog post for all of the shrimpy details you need to put the best tasting critter in the puget sound on your boat this year.

Before we go too far, you really need to read through our guide to Puget Sound Spot Shrimp, which attempts to cover everything from soup to nuts you might need to be successful at harvesting spot shrimp.

Also, the above video will be a good primer on preparing for the opener on May 19th or whenever you go

We will however, in this post, cover the 2021 puget sound spot shrimp season details as announced by WDFW last week.

2021 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season Announced by WDFW

wdfw announces puget sound spot shrimp season 2021
WDFW announces puget sound spot shrimp season 2021

Below are all the details from the WDFW email broken down by Marine Area with my comments. Credit to Mark Yuasa’s earlier blog post providing the harvest numbers from 2020.

Marine Area 4-5 (Western Strait) Spot Shrimp Season 2021

Marine Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh Line: Remains closed until further notice.

Marine Area 5 (western Strait of Juan de Fuca): Open daily from May 19 through September 15, daylight hours.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021

I don’t know a ton (okay actually nothing) about shrimping in Marine Area 4 and 5. The fact that a season is announced here makes me curious to scan a few shrimpy spots when I’m out there next (hopefully soon!).

Marine Area 6 (Eastern Strait) Spot Shrimp Season 2021

Marine Area 6 (Port Angeles Harbor, eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, excluding the Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Open May 19-22, June 2-5, and June 16-19. Daylight hours.

Marine Area 6 (Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 19 and May 22.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021
Marine AreaBoatsAnglersPotsPots/BoatShrimpShrimp/Boat
Discovery Bay702042163.0913,028186.11
6 (excluding disco bay)6231,7221,9223.0997,919157.17

There’s quite a few places to shrimp in Marine Area 6 and we’ve done quite well out there. You cannot simply take your Puget Sound / Hood Canal shrimping game out here though…Unless we are talking about the Disco Bay Shrimp District, most of MA6 is big water, big current shrimping.

You need to pick the right tides and weather window to have success, safety and comfort shrimping in Marine Area 6. The season is quite a bit restricted from what is was last year, which is disappointing.

There are plenty of spots to shrimp on some of the banks (big water!) or closer inshore such as near Dungeness spit to Protection Island.

Here’s a blog post from last year shrimping Marine Area 6

2021 spot shrimp opener tides Sequim Bay
2021 Spot shrimp opener tides Sequim Bay

I really like the tide setup on May 19th and the 20th. Those will make for some very soft currents most of the day, but especially in the AM. Always look at current predictions and not just tides, but there is a correlation here. Smaller tide exchanges per hour generally mean less current.

Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands) Spot Shrimp Season 2021

Marine Area 7 South (Iceberg Point, Point Colville, Biz Point, Salmon Bank): Open May 19-22 and June 2-5. Daylight hours.

Marine Area 7 East (northern Rosario Strait, Bellingham Bay, Sucia and Matia islands, Strait of Georgia): Open May 19-22, June 2-5, and June 16-19. Daylight hours.

Marine Area 7 West (San Juan Channel, Speiden Channel, Stuart and Waldron islands): Open May 19-22, June 2-5, and June 16-19. Daylight hours.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021

Marine AreaBoatsAnglersPotsPots/BoatShrimpShrimp/Boat
7 South3189541,0323.2563,455199.54
7 East2005536243.1229,553147.77
7 West4721,3601,4813.1485,337180.80

Again, these seasons like in Marine Area 6 are quite restrictive compared to last year. There’s always the chance for late openers, but we’ve seen MA7-West open most of the summer in years past, and now it’s only 12 days total…The best shrimping here is usually August timeframe, so this is disappointing.

We’ve had some great adventures boat-in camping and shrimping the San Juan’s. Checkout this video of our trip last year (2020)

Marine Area 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11 (Puget Sound) Spot Shrimp Season 2021

Marine Areas 8-1 (Saratoga Passage, Deception Pass) and 8-2 (Port Susan, Port Gardner, Everett): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 19.

Marine Area 9 (Edmonds, Port Townsend Bay, Admiralty Inlet): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 19.

Marine Area 10 (Elliott Bay): Open 3 hours only from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on May 19 (this is the portion of Marine Area 10 east of a line from West Point to Alki Point).

Marine Area 10 (outside Elliott Bay): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 19 (this is the portion of Marine Area 10 west of a line from West Point to Alki Point, which includes the Bainbridge Island shrimp fishing grounds).

Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 19.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021

Catch results in 2020

Marine AreaBoatsAnglersPotsPots/BoatShrimpShrimp/Boat
8-1 & 8-22026976783.3646,044227.94
10 & Elliot Bay1545775373.4939,038253.49
Catch results from 2020

The bulk of the shrimping season will take place in Puget Sound proper within the above Marine Areas and their respective seasons. All of these have exactly 4 hours on May 19th to get it done and I wouldn’t count on a later opening date.

If you only plan to shrimp these areas and only on May 19th, you better have your game together as there’s no do-overs here. Definitely checkout our guide to Puget Sound Spot Shrimp to make sure you haven’t left any details unaccounted for.

Checkout this video for some ideas on how to rig shrimp pots and what it’s like to shrimp

I would also say that in general the further north you go, the better shrimping will be. Don’t mess around on the south side of Vashon or Colvos passage in Marine Area 11. Focus near the north end for higher concentrations of shrimp,.

Better yet, if you are willing to go to the north tip of Vashon, just go a few more miles and shrimp off of Bainbridge Island.

Let’s talk a bit of logistics:

If you arrive with just enough time to launch your boat, get to your spot and prep your gear, you will probably be late by a good chunk of time. For that 9am opener, you want to launch no later than 7am. That’s right, get the crew up early, feed them coffee and donuts, whatever it takes to get those extra shrimp licenses (I mean children!) out of bed in the morning and on your boat.

Let’s take a look at the tides:

2021 spot shrimp opener tides bainbridge island
2021 spot shrimp opener tides Bainbridge island

I really like the morning tide on the opener May 19th. However, current should remain soft enough to provide excellent shrimping opportunity all the way from 9am to 1pm. These dates were selected by WDFW to provide the best tide / current situation for shrimping.

Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) and MA13 Spot Shrimp Season 2021

Marine Area 12 (Hood Canal Shrimp District): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 19, May 22, June 2, June 5, and June 16. Please note that the Skokomish Park at Potlatch (“Saltwater Park”) Hood Canal boat launch is currently closed until further notice.

Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound, Carr Inlet): Closed for spot shrimp harvest due to low abundance.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021

Hood Canal is probably our favorite place to harvest spot shrimp in the Puget Sound. There’s a ton of people and not many places to launch your boat on Hood Canal, but the shrimp abundance is fantastic for those who know where to get it done.

Shrimping in da hood in 2019

Additional information supplied by WDFW in their announcement email

Coordinating and finalizing dates last year was very challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded; ultimately, participation was notably higher than in past seasons, said Don Velasquez, a shellfish biologist for WDFW.

“The dates selected for the 2021 season reflect anticipated high levels of participation similar to 2020,” Velasquez said.  “With our test surveys indicating healthy populations across most marine areas, we’re pleased to offer a good mix of opportunity throughout Puget Sound this year.”

WDFW is asking shrimp fishers to follow responsible recreation guidelines to provide for a safe and enjoyable experience for all. 

“Plan appropriately for the weather conditions, make sure your vessel and equipment are functioning properly, and exercise patience and courtesy at boat ramps and launches,” said Velasquez. “Shrimp fishers also need to keep clear of ferry terminals and routes, particularly in Elliott Bay and at Mukilteo.”

Fishers should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for wearing masks and social distancing in shared public spaces and staying home if they feel sick. Fishers should also check for potential COVID-related closures and restrictions at access sites before heading out.

Of note, the Skokomish Park at Potlatch (also known as “Saltwater Park”) Hood Canal boat launch and associated facilities, located just north of Potlatch State Park in southern Hood Canal, is currently closed until further notice, and a date for reopening has not been announced.

In all areas of Puget Sound, fishers are limited to 80 shrimp per day on open days in May. Fishers may keep dock, coonstripe, and pink shrimp caught incidentally while fishing for spot shrimp, but they count toward the 80-shrimp limit. Beginning June 1, the daily limit is 10 pounds of all shrimp with a maximum of 80 spot shrimp. Seasons for non-spot shrimping (dock, coonstripe, and pink shrimp only) will begin later this year and will be announced separately.

A valid 2021-22 combination license, shellfish license, or Fish Washington license is required to participate in all shrimp fisheries. More information on recreational shrimp seasons, and a description of the marine areas, is available on WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing website

WDFW reminds shrimpers that traps can be set one hour before official sunrise during any open period in the marine areas without specified harvest hours. This includes Marine Areas 5, 6 (except for the Discovery Bay Shrimp District), 7 East, 7 South, and 7 West. Traps must be removed from the water in these same areas by one hour after sunset at the end of an open period. The start and end times for all other areas are listed above.

Shrimp anglers are reminded to follow Be Whale Wise practices to help protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW). Recreational vessels must stay at least 300 yards from SRKWs and at least 400 yards out of their path or behind the whales. Vessels must also reduce their speed to seven knots within a half-mile of a Southern Resident killer whale. Anglers are also encouraged to watch for the Whale Warning Flag, an optional tool from the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee, that lets others know that there might be whales nearby. If you see the flag, slow down and follow guidelines. For more details about steps anglers can take to keep the whales – and themselves – safe, visit BeWhaleWise.org.

WDFW email dated Fri April 9th, 2021

Additional Shrimpy Information

There are so many ways to prepare and eat these awesome spot shrimp critters. Here’s one such recipe we’ve throughly enjoyed over the past few years called Spot Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas.

As always, you can drop a comment here, email me at kyle@pnwbestlife.com or follow me on instagram @pacificnwbestlife and direct message me there to ask me anything about puget sound spot shrimp.

8 Replies to “2021 Puget Sound Spot Shrimp Season”

  1. Very cool! We live right by the Hood Canal bridge and that’s where we did most of our prawning last season. Maybe we will see you guys out there!

    1. That would be cool! We have the green alumaweld Stryker with the barking fluffy dog. We tend to spend our time around Seabeck area.

    2. How did you all do on the opener? We had a blast and killed it, 6 limits in a few hours!

  2. Why does no one talk about where the best place to shrimp in Area 7 (east) is? The season has more days (2021) there but I can find any body commenting on it. Is there no shrimp? Are the currents too strong? What is it?

    1. Good question! Definitely not too strong of currents. I don’t mention much about MA7 because I live in the south sound and tend to shrimp in areas like MA10, 11 and 12. Or I go to 6.

  3. If you are a loner and need a part time crabbing/shrimping buddy I’m a great on the water companion. Lots of stories,lol. Likely marine area 8( Everett) . Contact me anytime and we can discuss throw downs and possibilities.

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