When is Shrimp Season in the Lowcountry?

You can find tasty shrimp dishes year-round on Hilton Head Island, but did you know that the Lowcountry has three different shrimping seasons that run from May to January?

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What do you like best about visiting the island? Is it the warm, sunny days spent at the beach? Is it heading out to the greens for a great round of golf knowing you can do it all again tomorrow? Or is it spending the day out on the water looking for dolphins swimming between your boat and the spartina grass?

For many, the seemingly endless delicious and fresh seafood options are just an added perk enjoyed during a stay on Hilton Head Island, but sometimes, that’s the whole purpose for foodies traveling to the Lowcountry. This is especially true when a certain food is in season. Not only does everything just taste that much more delicious, but we love to celebrate with festivals and events–especially when it comes to food!

You can find tasty shrimp dishes year-round on Hilton Head Island, but did you know that the Lowcountry has three different shrimping seasons that run from May to January?

The first is called Roe Shrimp Season, and it begins either in May or June and is over almost as quickly as it began! In less than a month, roe shrimp, or shrimp with eggs, are harvested along the marshes. Shrimp roe is considered a seafood delicacy, and depending on the season, commercial fishermen may or may not be allowed to join in, making it that much harder to come by.

The second phase is the Brown Shrimp Season which usually starts at the beginning of June and can last until mid- to late-August or even longer in some instances. This summer catch is known to have a stronger flavor and is great in gumbo and other similar dishes. Brown shrimp are normally caught using cast nets or seines.

The third and final phase is the White Shrimp Season, and that lasts from about August to December and even January. White shrimp are the product of Roe Shrimp from earlier in the year, and as time goes on, they move to the ocean and are caught there by trawlers with fishing nets, but similar to Brown shrimp, they can be found in tidal creeks towards the beginning of their season.

Shrimp is a major part of the Lowcountry diet and has been a seafood staple for, well, it seems like forever. An important industry to the area since the late 1800s, it definitely makes sense as to why we can make a mean plate of Shrimp and Grits or Lowcountry Boil. It’s also cause for celebration, with multiple festivals happening throughout the region every year. Here are a few shrimp-specific events to look out for:

May River Shrimp Festival by Bear Foot Sports
July 19th, 2024 | Oyster Factory Park | Website

Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival
September 21st, 2024 | Harbour Town | Website

Beaufort Shrimp Festival
October 4-5, 2024 | Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park | Website
You might see Forrest walking around, since a lot of the movie, Forrest Gump, was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina. If you see him, ask him for his favorite shrimp recipe. He’ll be glad to stop and chat, take a photo with you, and if you’re lucky, give you a sweet treat from his box of chocolates.

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