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Beach Seining

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.

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Most seining teams make several pulls, with a short break in between each one.

Seining laws

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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A short beach seine net.

A short beach seine net.


Nwaiwu Ikenna on March 02, 2012:

This is really interesting. I've just learned something. Thanks a lot.

SeineMakerSis on October 29, 2010:

I absolutely LOVE this article! Those of us who know seining well are always surprised that many, if not most, people don't even know what it is! My family has been building beach seines in the Southeast for 30 years. Thank you so very much for spreading the word!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 30, 2010:

Maita, my friend, pity those poor souls who haven't had the experience of really fresh seafood! lol

prettydarkhorse from US on March 30, 2010:

habee, I like the way you explain beach seining, simple as that and the lawas as well, I agree with you about eating super fresh shrimp or fish, you never really had eaten freh seafoods yet, correct! thanks, habee, Maita

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Jill, I'm glad you have great memories of the beach with loved ones!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Thanks, Audrey. I've had a great life - so far! lol

jill of alltrades from Philippines on March 29, 2010:

We are two of a kind. I love everything about the sea too.

My grandfather was a fisherman so he and friends used to do beach seining. I remember I used to wait for them at the beach and marvel at their catch. That was a long time ago though.

Thanks for this hub. It brought back happy memories of the times I spent with my grandfather.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on March 29, 2010:

How interesting! My blind guy might have had a chance at catching SOMETHING that way....oy vey - between him and me, we were a disaster at fishing. Great information as always and you write about the neatest things.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Thanks for visiting, Gramarye!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

It is fun, Nancy - and it can be rewarding!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 29, 2010:

Are ya chicken, Quildon? lol

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on March 29, 2010:

That's really interesting I had never heard of this before

nancy_30 from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Great hub. This sounds like a really fun activity.

Angela Joseph from Florida on March 28, 2010:

Sounds like great fun, but I'll have to try it in the daytime. Nice hub!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

I'll go check it out now, Granny!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Hi, Austin! Never used bacon for crabbing - we always use chicken parts. I'll have to try it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Entertainment, give it a go!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Lol, HH! I know you wouldn't.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 28, 2010:

Yep, Eth - we throw the small ones back. Unless we use them for bait!

Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on March 28, 2010:

Habee, you need to check this hub page. I think you will like it.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 28, 2010:

Whoa, reminds me of when I was a youngster crabbing off the docks of Aransas Pass. We put bacon on a string and when the crabs came up to feed off the bacon, we would slip a net under them. Good eating! And we stayed dry. Seining sounds like a job for the guys!

entertianmentplus from United States on March 28, 2010:

Would love to try it.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 28, 2010:

You guessed right, I wouldn't

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on March 28, 2010:

Sounds fun and useful. I assume little tiddlers escape through the mesh or are thrown back in to grow etc.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Funny, Randy! How I wish we had a video of that fateful night!!

Come on down, Charlie! I'll feed you all the shrimp you can stomach, and Randy can play the guitar while his wife and I serenade you!

ralwus on March 27, 2010:

This is done on the shores of Lake Erie for Smelts. I would love to be in on that one day. One can go to the beach with a bucket or two and pick them up from the sand. Good eating too. I would love to come down sometime and be your beach man. You can sing to me by the fire and feed me prawns. xox I'll being my sippin' whiskey.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on March 27, 2010:

"If you'll give me just one more beer......"

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Randy, you might find this hard to accept, but I have been seining many other times than with you! Also, on that particular seining trip, my job was to keep the ice cold - so I was doing my duty!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Helping! Who was pulling the seine and who was sitting on the ice cooler? LOL!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Ann, if you like the beach, you'll enjoy seining!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

You're welcome, Lily!!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

It's great fun, Bpop!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Johnny, you should join the old guys sometimes!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Deb, I think the shrimp would be pretty smelly by the time they arrived! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Sheila, maybe the beaches there are too rocky??

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Have a great time, Pam!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Oh, HH, you wouldn't do that to a pal, would you??

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Woody, I'm sure that would be a great place for seining - especially in St. Joe Bay. But the permit was about $200 last time I checked!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on March 27, 2010:

Well, Charlie, you could always be the beach man!

Ann Nonymous from Virginia on March 27, 2010:

This sounds cool and fun and seemingly unheard of. And for someone who doesn't have patience for fishing rods and who would love to spend time at the beach.....well I am all over it, Habee! Thanks for another amazing hub!!!!!!

Lily Rose from A Coast on March 27, 2010:

Very interesting, Holle! I've seen this done with much smaller nets but not with the large kind like you mention and I never knew what it was called; never heard of beach "seining." Thanks for the lesson!

breakfastpop on March 27, 2010:

Habee, once again you amaze me. I have never heard of this particular activity but it sounds amazing and eventually delicious.

kowality from Everywhere on March 27, 2010:

Hi Habee. There are older fellas that do this frequently in English Bay, Vancouver. It's cool to watch them wade in to the water and get excited when the catch is big. Mostly a type of herring. Thank You.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on March 27, 2010:

Habee, Beach Seining? I learned something new! How adventurous you just never know! You can enjoy this one for me! Make sure next time you ship me some of those large shrimp!

Thank you for sharing, In His love & Blessings!

sheila b. on March 27, 2010:

Gosh, I've lived at the beach and near the beach but I've never seen anyone do this. Probably laws against it in New England.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 27, 2010:

Habee, I've seen people do that and they can get a pretty good catch sometimes. Good hub.

I am going to be loving the ocean as we leave for a 4 day cruise in the morning. See you at the end of the week.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 27, 2010:

I have checked the law and it said NO HABEE ON THE BEACH OR ANYWHERE IS ALLOWED hahaha.

That was an interesting hub and new to me. Thank you very much for an informative read.

Woody on March 27, 2010:

The last time i went, that's all we got was enough for a cocktale. How are the Fla waters around Mexico Beach? I'm going there for vaction this year, & would like to try there

ralwus on March 27, 2010:

Wouldn't catch me doing that. Jaws! Sounds like fun though. Good eating too.

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