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Catching Bait Can Be as Much Fun as Catching Fish

Mossy Oak always has been about family and the outdoors. This past week outdoor writer, John E. Phillips, had the opportunity to take his wife, Denise, and his special-needs son, Hunter, on a shrimping and fishing trip with Captain Mike Wilson from Gulf Shores, Alabama. Wilson is one of those unique people who offers two types of fishing trips – a shrimping trip and an inshore saltwater trip. 

Although Hunter can’t hold a rod, make a cast, set the hook or catch a fish, he can go on a shrimping trip, sit with his mother and pick out the shrimp on the sorting table when Wilson brings in the net. He also can watch pelicans with their big gullets and seagulls diving right beside the boat when the bycatch of small baitfish is dumped back into the Bon Secour Bay on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. He can get excited seeing bottlenose dolphins come up from underwater, feed on the bycatch, jump, roll and blow right beside the shrimp net. 

Phillips family

“On a family fishing trip, we catch shrimp the family can take home and cook for dinner or freeze to eat later in the year,” Captain Mike Wilson explains. “We also catch live shrimp to fish for speckled trout, redfish and flounder in the back bays. The family gets to see a tremendous display of wildlife up close and personal. The birds and dolphins present opportunities for the family to make pictures. I enjoy taking families and special-needs children and adults on shrimping trips, seeing them smile and laugh.”

The medium-sized shrimp caught in the net were immediately put into a large round livewell that had oxygen and fresh water continually flowing into it. After the morning shrimping trip ended, the following morning we used some of those same live shrimp to catch speckled trout and redfish in the Intracoastal Waterway that runs near Orange Beach, Alabama, beginning its 3,000-mile inland waterway in Boston, Massachusetts, and ending in Brownsville, Texas. The Waterway, completed in 1949, was designed primarily for barge transportation. The Intracoastal Canal provides protected water for fishing and boating. When the waves of the Gulf of Mexico are big and strong due to the wind, the Intracoastal Canal is an area where beachgoers still can fish, regardless of the weather. 

Captain WilsonIf you're headed to salt water with your family this year and want a fun outdoor adventure for your entire family, consider an inshore fishing and/or shrimping trip. Most states’ Departments of Marine Resources and coastal chambers of commerce can give you recommendations on captains to call to take your family shrimping. My family had a fantastic time on a bright blue sky morning shrimping excursion, and the following day Wilson and I caught some hard-fighting, delicious-eating speckled trout and redfish with some of the smaller shrimp. Check out Bama Slam Inshore Adventures on Facebook or call, 251-747-6941 to learn more. 

The Phillips family enjoys many shrimp and saltwater fish recipes, and this shrimp recipe is easy to prepare but so delicious. 

Sopping Shrimp Bake

The first time we made this dish, we decided that we could prepare this yummy sauce and eat it on most anything – bread, rice or noodles. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh, wild shrimp, cleaned and deheaded
  • 1/2-cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons chili or cocktail sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2-tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2-teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2-teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2-teaspoon ground red pepper

Preparation:
Spread the shrimp in a shallow foil-lined pan. Combine the butter, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Creole or Cajun seasoning, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, oregano and red pepper in a saucepan, stirring over low heat until the butter is melted. Pour the sauce over the shrimp, and chill for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Serve with French bread for sopping. Or, you can serve the shrimp and sauce over rice. Serves 4-6.

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