How to beach seine
I love the ocean and everything associated with it – saltwater fishing, beaches, tidal creeks, bays, inlets, estuaries, and marshes. I’m an avid crabber and shell collector, also. Another related activity I’ve enjoyed many times is beach seining. It's like saltwater fishing without a rod!
What’s beach seining?
Beach seining is an activity that involves pulling a long seine through the water of an adjacent beach. A seine net is a long net that’s usually about five or more feet in height and about 100 feet in length, depending on your state’s regulations.
Along the top of the net are floats, and along the bottom are weights. The floats and weights force the net to remain open.
At the ends of the seine net are two poles that allow the net to be pulled.
What do you catch in a beach seine?
We’ve caught all kinds of stuff in our beach seining adventures, including shrimp, mullet, blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, whiting, small sharks, flounder, seatrout, reds, large whelks, and all kinds of small fish.
On our best trip, we caught coolers full of extra-large shrimp. On other trips, we’ve caught many large mullet. The guys fried the mullet right there on the beach!
On our worst seining trip, we didn’t catch enough shrimp to make a shrimp cocktail! Fellow hubber Randy Godwin was helping, and I’ve decided he was a bad luck charm!
Best places to seine
The best places to seine are off level beaches in relatively calm water. Tidal creeks and rivers, bays, and inlets often provide the best seining. The open ocean is usually too rough for pulling a long net. We have pulled short nets through the surf, however, and caught crabs and a few fish in the process.
When to seine
We’ve pulled a seine at all different times during the day and night, but we’ve had the most success at night. The new moon is supposedly the best time to seine for shrimp, although I’m not sure why.
How to seine
A long beach seine requires three people. The beach man holds the end of the net closest to the beach. The point man holds the end farthest from the beach. The middleman holds the net in the middle to make sure it stays open.
Although I’ve been the beach “man” and the middle “man,” these jobs usually fall to males. The women usually wait on the beach and help pick up the fish, shrimp, and crabs once the net is completely beached.
The point man wades out into the water while holding the net. This has to be someone pretty brave, especially if you’re seining at night. He’s going to end up about chest deep, and all kinds of critters will be swimming around him. Also, sometimes you feel something really big hit the net!
A deep pocket needs to be maintained in the net. Once the point guy is out deep enough and the pocket is made, the beach man and point man slowly walk through the water while staying even with each other. The net is held at a slight angle, with the bottom of the net slightly ahead of the top of the net. The men walk for several yards at the same pace. Then the beach man slows down, and the point man gets ahead of him. The point man gradually brings his end of the net to the shallows, and both ends of the net are pulled onto the beach.
The marine species have been trapped in the net’s pocket. Once the entire net has been hauled onto the sand, the contents can be examined. Desirable shrimp, fish, and crabs are placed into coolers or buckets, and any unwanted critters are returned to the water.
If the seining is done at night, several good flashlights are required. Shrimp are hard to see in the dark. By shining a light on the net, however, the red glowing eyes of the shrimp can be seen.
Most seining teams make several pulls, with a short break in between each one.
Each state has its own laws regarding beach seines. The size of the mesh and the length of the net are regulated. Licenses required for seining also vary from state to state. In Georgia, for example, just a regular fishing license covers seining, but in Florida, you have to purchase a commercial fishing permit to seine. These, at least, were the GA and FL laws last time I checked. They might have changed since then.
A great activity!
You're sure to find seining fun! The whole family can get involved in the process and also enjoy the rewards. If you've never eaten super fresh shrimp or fish that just came out of the water, you haven't eaten really fresh seafood. The taste is incomparable to even seafood served in the best restaurants.
Always a teacher at heart, I like the educational aspect of seining, too. You never know what strange creatures you might drag up in a seine net, so kids will have the opportunity to learn about different marine species.
If you don't like the idea of wading out chest deep at night, don't! Seine in the daytime in shallower water. You'll still catch numerous critters! This is also a great way to catch bait for fishing.
Check out the seine nets below! If you're planning a beach vacation this year, a seine net will provide hours of fun for the kids and for the adults. And hopefully, you'll get a free meal or two out of the process!
Where to buy a beach seine
Beach seines aren't always easy to find. Click here to buy one online!
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