The Lady Jane Shrimp Boat cruise is the best family excursion along Georgia’s coast in the United States. Our family has done it several times we like it so much. Each time is different, as you pull up and investigate what’s in the sea that day.
WHY A SAINT SIMONS SHRIMP BOAT CRUISE IS A MUST DO
“I’m such a fish nerd,” exclaimed our Lady Jane guide as she began digging through the mound of sea creatures piled on deck. “Here’s a flounder, this one is a baby, see, the eyes are on either side, they move to the top as the fish grows. Here’s an adult, see the eyes on top?”
She tosses out stingrays of various sizes. “Pick him up with two hands.” A squid, some shrimp, and then the prize, a stargazer fish. “We don’t normally get these. They live on the bottom, usually covered by sand. The tops of their head emit an electrically charge. Want to hold him? Be careful, don’t go near his head.”
The stargazer fish was indeed a rare find on the St. Simons shrimp boat cruise. Usually they camp at the bottom of the marsh, buried beneath the sand, waiting to ambush prey, or stun them with an electric shock.
I held him in my hand as we studied each other, me being careful not to touch his top side, least I get an electric jolt. He mouth turned downward into a grumpy face, maybe because we had just caught him in our giant trawl net.
In addition to the stargazer, we also held sting rays, sharks and my favorite the puffer fish. The adult felt slimy in my palm, with it’s hard, yet not too sharp spikes. The baby was the size of a large bouncy ball, and we had to be careful that he didn’t roll away. My teen enjoyed taking pictures of the birds that followed the boat hoping for a cheap meal, the 10-year-old liked spotting the dolphins.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE LADY JANE SHRIMP BOAT CRUISE
After boarding the authentic shrimp boat, the vessel heads out into the marsh to see what adventure awaits.
A few minutes out you hear “Lowering the nets” and watch as the shrimp nets go into the water. After about 10 – 20 minutes of trawling, the nets are brought up and the sea’s bounty spread on a table before you.
Each trip includes three trowels in Georgia’s salt marshes, and the cruise lasts around 1.5-2 hours. The catch is always different depending on the weather and season. “Last month, our net was full of horseshoe crabs because it was mating season. Last week we saw a lot of sharks,” said our naturalist guide. Each season may bring different marine life.
In addition to the stargazer and puffer, we have caught grouper, squid, crabs, several types of shark and even a 4 foot spotted eagle ray. The catch is laid out and a certified marine biologist gives the run down on what we’ve found, letting guests touch and even hold the fish before returning everything to the sea. The hearty swim away and the not so hearty become food for the flock of seagulls and dolphin following the boat.
TIPS FOR A GREAT LADY SHRIMP BOAT CRUISE
- Make Reservations – Advanced reservations are required.
- Wear old clothes – You’ll want to touch and handle the fish, so wear something you don’t mind getting, well, fishy.
- Don’t worry about sea sickness – The Lady Jane only travels in calm waters through the marshes, so there is no rough seas to shake up your insides. However, motion sickness medicine is recommended for those with extreme cases but is not necessary for most guests.
- Coolers are allowed – So feel free to bring some snacks, drinks and maybe an adult beverage with you. Alcohol is allowed aboard The Lady Jane and you must be 21 years old to drink alcoholic beverages while onboard.
- There are bathrooms and air conditioning – The boat has a tarp over the top, so for the most part you are in the shade (and safe from the bird poo). When the boat is going, there is usually a nice breeze too, however there is an air conditioned cabin and bathroom.
- Local Seafood – The Lady Jane is docked outside the Marshside Grill, a good place to score some local seafood. If you’d rather take it home and cook it yourself, there are several fresh seafood markets around the Golden Isles.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR VISIT TO GEORGIA’S GOLDEN ISLES
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- THE GEORGIA COAST: 47 Amazing Things to do on and Near The Barrier Islands
- JEKYLL ISLAND: Georgia’s Protected Coastal Beauty with Resort Fun
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