Rising water temperatures and the return of bait fish schools have once again brought the shark back to our local waters in masse.
Feared by many and pursued by few, sharks present an exciting target for summer anglers. So long as anglers of all skill levels keep a few important factors in mind, these apex predators can make any fishing trip exciting.
The number one thing to keep in mind when fishing for sharks or catching them accidentally is safety. There are some things that are universal when dealing with sharks, but others may depend on where your fishing vessel or lack thereof.
“Some people will disagree with me, but any shark over three or four feet doesn’t come in my boat,” local guide Stewart Ames said. “We can secure the fish boat side and people can touch its dorsal fin.”
Anglers fishing from land can bring sharks up to where they are fishing, but unless they are experienced in handling sharks it isn’t recommended. Even a small shark can be dangerous when hooked, so when releasing it is best to cut your line if you aren’t familiar with handling sharks or if is a large fish.
“Just like a ray, just reel up all the slack, grab the spool and break it off at the knot,” said local kayak guide Neil Taylor. “The only dangerous shark is a hooked one.”
Another important thing to remember is not using any kind of stringer when keeping fish as they are shark magnets. A stringer hung around a kayak, boat cleat or pair of waders could be bitten by a shark.
“You’re asking for trouble, just use a cooler or fishbag if you’re going to keep fish,” said Taylor. “If a shark takes your stringer, then you or your boat are now attached to the shark.”
While many people don’t target sharks, they are very easy to catch and are often caught as bycatch. Tossing the right live bait or any cut bait that’s bloody and oily such as a ladyfish or mullet into an area with deeper water and good current usually produces.
In addition to using bloody dead baits, the time of day is also key. Sharks feed best during low light conditions such as dawn and dusk.
“I won’t target them, but I’ll catch them when I’m tarpon fishing,” said local angler Aaron Myers. “Sometimes you’ll also catch them when you’re snook fishing on the flats or deeper channel edges.”
If anglers keep in mind certain key factors and are careful, sharks can be another species that make a fishing trip exciting.
If you want to read more about sharks, check out another blog of mine, The Man in the Gray Suit