Author: Will Daniel
On the afternoon of August 21st, I decided to go on a fishing trip with one of my new friends from school at UNC Wilmington, to scout out some spots where there could be some flounder in preparation for the upcoming season. I was fishing from the point of Wrightsville beach, casting into Masonboro Inlet. While I was fishing lures to cover a lot of water to find the flounder, I brought a surf rod for my friend to watch over, because he was not an experienced fisherman and was not comfortable with fishing artificial. This rod was also a good chance to see what other kinds of fish were out there. When I am fishing with a surf rod just to try and catch something, I usually use a two-hook dropper loop rig, tied from my bulk spool of 30lb Bullbuster mono.
About an hour into fishing my friend calls me over because he thought the line on the surf rod was really far to the right and wanted me to check it. I was confused because I had enough lead on to where the current was not strong enough to pull the rig. When I picked up the rod and reeled tight, I was met with nothing but about 80lbs of dead weight on the end of my line. I had no idea what was on the end of my line, my only thought was the possibility of being a sting ray. I pulled in the dead weight for about 5 minuets strait, and then I saw what was on the hook in the waves. It was about an 80lb Nurse Shark. Now I know that Nurse Sharks are not the best fighters, but you could tell something was different about this one. It could barely pull any drag off the reel even while using the power of the waves, and I did not have the drag very tight at all on my reel.
When I got the shark close enough to shore, I handed the rod to my buddy and entered the water to pull the shark in. I did not even pull the shark all the way out of the water because of how exhausted I could tell it was. While I was removing my circle hook, I noticed another hook in the other corner of the sharks’ mouth. The hook had a line attached to it. I was able to get both of the hooks out, released the shark safely, a watch it swim off to see another day. I had handed the other line to my friend and after the shark was gone, we pulled it in. On the end of that line just happened to be a Penn Battle II 6000 and a 12ft Okuma Longitude surf rod. This was the last thing I was expecting and a crazy introduction to saltwater fishing for my friend who did not have much experience when it came to saltwater.
The rod was in near perfect condition and has performed well for me, but the reel needed some serious work. I could hardly turn the handle and when I did water and sand just kept pouring out. I got the information of a guy in the Wilmington area, that specialized working on Penn reels. I took it to him to see if he could restore the reel because this reel was far to dirty and messed up for me to handle it. He said he had never heard of someone catching a reel in the exact way I did. He said, “I think this reel has about half of Wrightsville Beach in it” and that he had never seen so much sand in a reel. He seemed to think that this reel had been pulled by that shark for at least a month. Somehow, he was able to restore that reel to work like it was good as new. A good use of $25 to restore an over $100 reel. This reel has served me very well and has been used to catch loads of bluefish, some stingrays, and plenty of other critters that swim in the sea.
This whole experience was crazy and should not have happened in any way. This shark was initially hooked on heavy mono and somehow it did not break or get bit off for that long. It was hooked by me on 30lb Bullbuster mono, on a dropper loop rig, with a 3/0 circle hook baited with shrimp of all things, and I was able to pull it to shore, an 80lb shark! This shows just how durable this mono is and that it can really stand up to the test of anything. I also ended up spooling this real with some of the 30lb mono as backing and topping off the rest of it with 30lb Bullbuster braid. What a day! (The pictures show when I first got the reel out of the water with all of the old, crappy line on it, to when it was completely restored and good as new)
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