PORT ISABEL, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Just about every day of the week you can find Vito Sandoval and Ricardo Rodriguez plying the waters of the Brownsville ship channel dragging their net to provide local bait stands with live shrimp.
With the sun just clearing the horizon, they are on the water and getting ready to haul in their first drag of the day.
First up are the trawl doors and then the net and bag which is emptied into a holding tank and culled for live shrimp.
They are an efficient team and while Rodriguez expertly separates the shrimp from “bycatch,” Sandoval returns to the Captain’s chair, where he is right at home as bay shrimping is a family tradition.
“My dad did it for many, many years. He is the one that got me going around 12 years old that’s when I started coming with him on the weekends and the summertime, and I loved it,” said Vito Sandoval.
Joining the shrimpers on their daily drags is a compliment of seagulls, pelicans, and dolphins providing constant companionship as they escort the vessel in hopes of snatching morsels of discarded bycatch.
Ricardo Rodriguez shares Vito’s love of their work while keeping watch for those ever-present pelicans poised to grab a bill full of unguarded shrimp.
“I get to get out of the house every day. You don’t have to stress about anything. You are stress-free. I love it,” Rodriguez said.
“It is just amazing to be out here, the scenery, everything about it is just great,” Sandoval said.
There are less than 10 bay shrimpers working out of Port Isabel, and they are strictly limited to no more than 200 pounds of live shrimp per day, which keeps the fishery productive and bay shrimpers in business.
“I love being out here on this water,” Sandoval added.