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Pink shrimp are the most famous Florida species. The Key West Pinks are the same species as the hoppers, but they mature on the coral sand bottoms of the Tortugas and develop the distinctive pink color. Their firm texture and great flavor make this shrimp highly sought after
Royal Red Shrimp
Royal Red Shrimp are a deep water bright red shrimp caught off of Florida’s East Coast and a few places in the Gulf of Mexico. The shrimp have large heads, long antennae and feelers and very red shell. Royal Reds are caught in much deeper water than any of Florida’s other shrimp. They have the softest texture, but the sweetest flavor or all the Florida shrimp. Royal Reds will cook in half of the time of regular shrimp. They are normally produced in March through June.
Rock Shrimp get their name from their very hard shell. They are only caught at night and in deeper water than regular shrimp. Virtually all Rock Shrimp are caught by boats equipped with on board freezers to immediately preserve the product until it is further processed on shore. Rock Shrimp fishing is seasonal. The majority of the production is caught off of Florida’s East Coast from September to December. In some years there is production in the Florida Gulf during the summer months.
White Shrimp are harvested on the Atlantic Ocean side from Cape Canaveral north and from the Ochlockonee River mouth to Louisiana. The two main seasons for this species are late spring to June and fall until the dead of Winter comes in January. White shrimp tend to be caught in waters shallower than 90 feet. The size spread for a normal production year are usually 21/25 per pound and larger. The shrimp do best in the near shore areas of lower salinity.
North Florida Hoppers
The North Florida Hopper is native to Florida’s Coastal waters in the Panhandle and from Cape Canaveral north. On the Gulf side of the state they are caught in high salinity places like St. Joe Bay. The Hopper season is usually the middle of March to May. Hoppers got their name from the early shrimping days when the shrimpers dumped the nets on the deck; the hardy shrimp would “hop” around. Hoppers are an incredibly delicious shrimp. They have a firm crisp texture and bite with sweet ocean flavor. Mature Hoppers all have a red spot on their sides.
Brown Shrimp are found in Florida waters west of Apalachicola Bay to Texas. Brownies (as the shrimpers call them) tend to be found in deeper waters with higher salinity than the white shrimp. Brown shrimp spawn year round but the main harvest occurs after the hopper season and runs through the summer. Brown shrimp get their name from the golden brown color of the shell.