Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Texas Gold Shrimp Tour

Today we took a Winter Ranch bus trip to Texas Gold Shrimp.  This tour has been pretty popular so we decided we had better check it out.  Texas Gold Shrimp is one the Largest Shrimp Operations in the Gulf.   The tour included a tour of a Shrimp Boat at their docking facility.  We also enjoyed eating the Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp cooked right in front of us at the end of the tour. 

We had a bus of 23 people from Winter 
Ranch Going To Texas Gold Shrimp

 Arriving at Texas Gold Shrimp

We sat down to listen to information 
about Texas Gold Shrimp

A member of the family who owns the business gave us an introduction to the shrimping business when we first arrived.  This young man is the son of the current President of the company.  He says he has worked every job in the place and now gives these tours as well as manages part of the operations of the business.  He is a busy guy!

Darlene Onken  was chosen to take part in a shrimp deveining contest.  She and another guy from the audience got their hands up first.  He had some experience at deveining and he won.  She gave him a run of the money though.  He won 1 1/2 pounds of wild caught brown shrimp.  She did get a deveining tool though.

 Deveining Tool

 Instructions on Using the Deveining Tool

Instructions were given on how to devein a shrimp correctly and the two contestants each had five shrimp to devein.  The first one done was the winner. 

 Josie is in the middle listening to the discussion.

 This net is a small version of what is dragged behind
 the back of the shrimp boat to catch the shrimp.  

 The other half of the net 

Our guide, pictured above, showed us how the sea turtles and smaller fish escape from the net instead of dying with the shrimp they catch.  Their fate is not much better, however, since dolphins take turns eating the small fish that escape the nets.

 After we learned how the nets work we took a
 tour of the shrimp boat itself.

 This is the brine tank which is used for the fast 
freezing process of the shrimp
 Lee, Gary and Ethel listening to the Guide

 View from the Shrimp Boat

Our Guide on the Shrimp Boat - He has worked 
for the company for over 40 years
 This guy is a "header"  

As a header, he is actually removing the head from the shrimp at an absolutely incredible pace.  It normally takes him about 5 minutes to decapitate the shrimp and fill the orange basket beside him with shrimp bodies.  These "headers" sit on the floor on these little benches for four hours at a time heading the shrimp.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to get up much less move around after that.  They actually tried giving these guys padded seats with backs but after a couple of trips, the headers wanted their old small benches back because the cushier ones caused them to slow down.

 Deheading the Shrimp

  This is the dining room of the shrimp boat. 

This is the crew's bunks.  There are four in here.  The captain gets a room by himself but it is mighty tiny and has equipment in it.  These are not what you would call plush accommodations!

  This is the Pilot House - the most spacious of all the rooms.

After the tour of the shrimp boat, we went back into the first building where they had drawings for various prizes.
Texas Gold Shrimp has a Gift Shop and all the proceeds from the sales of these items goes to the Gladys Porter Zoo for the turtle rescue efforts.  Last year they donated over $1,000 to that program.

After the door prizes were handed out, we were served some fresh brown shrimp and cocktail sauce.  They asked that we try some of the shrimp without the sauce so that we could tell what fresh shrimp tastes like.  It certainly has a much stronger flavor than what we've purchased at the grocery store.  It was really good.  After this trip and all the information we have now on wild caught vs imported farm raised shrimp, we will be a lot picker about what we buy from now on.  Our tour guide told us that the shrimp we buy at Walmart, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Joe's Crab Shack and many grocery stores are foreign farm raised shrimp.  Here in Texas we can get wild caught shrimp at Louie's Back Yard, Schlitterbahn's, Dirty Al's, Pelican Station, HEB and a couple of places in McAllen.  What we found interesting is that one of our local grocery store chains in Iowa, HyVee, sells wild caught shrimp.  Good for HyVee!!

 We each received a portion about this size to try.  
It was really good!

 View From Our Table

After all of us were on the bus again, Jim headed us over to Pelican Station in Port Isabel for dinner.  They were wild caught shrimp and it was delicious!  

 Our Table Full of People from Winter Ranch

Then it was time to head home!  I think I can speak for all of us that this was a great trip.  We learned a lot and it was a beautiful day to boot!

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