South winds gusting to more than 30 knots took their toll on fishing and fishermen Sunday.

Around 11 a.m. while driving west on Seawall Boulevard, I noticed two of our well-known fishing guides headed east with water draining out of their boats.

My guess is they gave it up after a few hours in West Bay or along the protected north shoreline of the west end.

Now, if you are more of an optimist, you might interpret the situation as they had limited out by then and were heading home.

Regardless, it was a rough morning on the water.

There was no relief to the shortage of live shrimp Sunday and a few bait camp operators felt the shortage had worsened.

Compounding the problem was Sunday’s high winds that kept many of the shrimp boats off the water.

Andy Morris sent a note asking about the flags flying from the various bait camps.

He was under the impression that if flags were flying, live shrimp was available and asked if we could shed some light on this.

Each bait camp he visited with flying flags had no live shrimp.

The color of the flag is the key to what bait is available.

While today there are a variety of flags that fly above bait camps, only solid white or white with an imprint saying “Live Shrimp” indicates a supply of live shrimp.

During my early years of fishing, there were only two flags, the white for live shrimp and solid blue indicating dead bait.

In recent years, flags have been designated for live croaker, live mullet, mudfish, crab and pinfish.

The origin of the flags was in the early 20th century when practically all bait camps were on the water, and anglers did not have speedy outboards. In fact, most used oars. Most of the small bait camps did not have telephones and definitely no one had a cellphone.

The flag would save them a lot of wasted effort and grew in popularity.

Even today, they save time and gasoline expense; however, the cellphone is now making the flag presentation more a tradition of the past.

Capt. Joe Kent is a columnist for The Daily News. To get your catch in the Reel Report, call 409-683-5273 or email

(1) comment

Steve Fouga

Interesting info regarding the origin of bait camp flags. That never occurred to me. Thanks, for sharing, Captain.

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