Yesterday, not having fished in a while, I booked Aaron for a half day of shark fishing. Since the majority of my recent angling has been spent in hot pursuit of the 6 lb tarpon record, and before that I spent 3 years on the 2 lb shark record, I figured it to be the perfect time to rig up some 20#, call up Aaron, and go have some fun.
Our first stop was to get some ladyfish for bait, which didn’t take long. After 20 minutes we had a well full of ladyfish that were soon chopped up and deployed into the last of the incoming water.
It didn’t take long for Aaron to rig a butterflied ladyfish on a kite, suspended just above the water and in anticipation of a shark that wanted to play. What happened, however, was slightly odd but no less cool: a giant school of jack crevalle began to circle the bait, and we began a game of keep away with them that ended with limited success. I’ve never seen so many jacks in an area or that acted so aggressively; we soon caught a few:
Following that, and since the sharks were apparently so full of jacks that they didn’t want to show up, we cut the hooks off of a popper and played fetch with the jacks for an hour. Aaron caught some of the action on digital:
We only saw a singe black tip shark, and after getting our visual fill of the jacks attacking the popper decided to move elsewhere in search of a lemon shark.
We arrived to a flat that was full of nurse sharks (decidedly not on the top of our yes list) and hung the chum. An hour of chumming brought only more nurse sharks and a single lemon; we left for a nearby channel in search of a blacktip.
I caught a small blue runner on a spinning rod, which we quickly hung from the kite behind the boat, in close proximity to the large blacktip we had seen upon our arrival. We only saw the shark once more, and it never became fixated on the obvious opportunity we presented. On our way home, we elected to drift on the now outgoing water over some patchy bottom. This proved to be a good idea (to say the least), and within 10 minutes I had a shot at a large lemon shark that was larger than any we had seen until that time.
The drill worked like this: I would stand in the stern, fly in hand and ready for a shot. Aaron was standing on the console with a hookless bait on a spinning rod, waiting to tease in any shark that would let him. His advantage there was twofold: he often saw more than I did from his elevated viewpoint, and was able to more easily get the bait away from the incoming shark cleanly, allowing a good switch to my fly.
Over the course of an hour, we probably had fifty or more large lemon sharks track the bait. Of these, maybe a dozen offered a good tease. Three ate the bait before Aaron could get it away from them, and I hooked two. The first at the fly and turned to its left, offering me what I thought was a great angle to bury the hook. After my hook set, when I was clearing my line, the fly simply came out. The second fish, large and very aggressive, ate the fly coming at me. While I buried the steel in this one, the angle of attack was such that the 12 inches of steel leader were well inside the teeth when I came tight. I need not make the point that shark teeth don’t have a lot of respect for 20 lb monofilament, and the fish was immediately freed with a shake of the sharp.
Our final disrespect arrived in the form of a small blacktip that teased in just fine but swam under the fly; I pulled the fly away from it, only to come tight (really tight, unfortunately) to its dorsal fin. As the little shark ran away from us, the polyethylene line from Aaron’s teaser rod became wrapped around my fly line. And here lies the unfortunate reality of something we should have seen coming. I really hope that the little blacktip is able to rid itself of the 80 feet of floating fly line it’s now dragging behind it.
That was it; we called it a day after the fly line was cut, and headed home.
As always it was a great day of fishing with Aaron, and I hope to get after those large lemons at some point in the near future.