While fishing off Fort Lauderdale has improved, especially in the reef area, landing a complete fish has gotten harder. Kingfish and Bonitos are plentiful this time of year and following them are some of the largest sharks we catch all season. It’s fun for me as a rod bends over and one of our guests asks “What do you think I’ve got on”? “An improperly rigged shark bait” is my favorite answer.
The fact is a fish struggling on the line sends out the kind of distress signals and vibrations that attract sharks attention. It’s almost like ringing the dinner bell. And even a small King or Bonito will pull much harder when being chased by who knows what? I do know landing fish missing tails or half their body is more frequent this time of year. And if you’re looking to wrestle something big on rod and reel? You’ve come to the right place.
Hammerhead, Dusky, Tiger, Thresher, Bull, Sandbar and even Mako Sharks are all present and accounted for. We’ve been catching them on a regular basis. Even the smaller sharks we may catch can be in danger of being bitten by a larger one. It’s a dog eat dog world and the dogs are hungry!
Fishing for shark isn’t very glamour or exciting, well, not until that 130 International reel begins peeling line off and the big rod is bent almost touching the water. Just getting the rod out of the holder and into the chair is a struggle, the safety lines are clipped to the eyelets on the top of the reel and all you can do is hang on. And even though we mention that when the line stops going out it’s time for you to reel, many don’t as they sit in awe and feel the power of this animal pulling line like it is nothing.
As other chip in and help clearing the other lines from the water, the mate begins with instructions if you need them. Lift the rod slowly if the fish has stopped and then wind as you lower it. It seems kind of futile as you gain a couple of feet or so and the fish just took out 100 yards or better in less than a minute.
Once the fish is turned toward you thing get a bit easier. But that direction can change in a heartbeat and you’re losing line once again. Or you can have what Justin and I had the other day, the fish basically swam right to the boat! The angler had trouble reeling fast enough to take up the slack line. That all changed when that Hammerhead saw the boat and turned the other way.
The fight could last minutes or hours, generally somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. But all that time is forgotten when the fish finally appears from the depth and you get your first look at it. The pictures I chose were of an 8’ Nurse Shark we caught fishing in the I.C.W. while fishing inshore. While Nurse Sharks are not considered dangerous as most the sharks we catch are, I got a couple of good shots from the flybridge of this fish being brought up to the boat. The sharks we catch in the ocean aren’t quite so cooperative.
BTW… They get bigger in the ocean… Lots bigger.