Author: The Shark Boys
Lately, it seems as if there is a controversy over almost everything. From politics, to fishing everyone has a different opinion on what is correct. Recently, we have been noticing a lot of controversy over land based shark fishing. This year in particular we have noticed more and more people going out trying to catch sharks. The sport of land based shark fishing is definitely on a rise. While we are happy to share our sport with other individuals that are just as interested in shark fishing as us, people who jump right into catching these apex predators do have flaws. Fishing is a sport that everyone can enjoy, and we are not one to tell you to not go fishing, but we do ask that if you start land based shark fishing, please do research and follow ALL regulations.
Every few weeks it seems there is another news article on a shark being found dead on a beach, or how “this state, and that state” wants to put a ban on land based shark fishing. It really is insane how in certain places you are legally not allowed to fish for sharks. For example; it is almost ever shark fisherman's dream to head to Florida and catch those massive hammers, tigers, bulls, etc. We are absolutely guilty of it. You see pictures on instagram of these massive sharks and everything seems great. However, what you don’t see is when you get to Florida, there is almost nowhere to shark fish. Some towns have piers and will not even allow you to cast from the shore. Some places have size restrictions on reels, and hooks. Trust us, it is a hassle driving 20+ hours, with all your gear to Florida and find almost nowhere to fish. It is devastating to find out the sport you are so passionate about is illegal. Moreover, it is just not Florida that has these restrictions. In South Carolina, if you shark fish in Horry County and get caught, you will be charged with a $10,000 fine. People are truly serious about removing land based shark fishing all together. In Maryland, you are not allowed to kayak out baits from the beaches, unless in a certain area. States put these laws to make it much harder for us to be able to fish. They make it almost impossible and they will continue doing so. Luckily, where we fish, there is no bans yet, however, we have been seeing a lot more shark fisherman. Just last week we saw a group of land based shark fisherman keep a shark out of water to long (taking pictures, measurements and showing their fish off to vacationers) and try for over and hour to revive this shark, but unfortunately could not. This stuff can be prevented and gives our community a really bad rep. From last year when there was only us and maybe one other group that were serious shark fisherman until now where almost everyone is trying to catch a shark.
With all of that being said, what can we do to help this sport not die off? How do we prevent the state from putting a ban or regulations where we live? In all honestly, we cannot. But, we can help try to minimize it as best as we can. Here are some tips we put together to help everyone keep this sport up and running.
DO RESEARCH!! Please do not just jump into shark fishing without knowing anything about the species you are going for. Every shark is different and it is important to know that certain sharks may fight to the death. Also, people think they can just go out by themselves and catch a shark. We have had sharks that two grown men couldn’t even move. You cannot do this sport alone. Get a group together and be safe about it, not just for the fish but for yourself. Moreover, understand that even if you are going for “small sharks” you have no control over what is going to take your bait. Be smart about it.
USE HEAVY GEAR!! We live in New Jersey, so the sharks we catch are either sand tigers and smaller sandbars. Maybe, you will get an occasional dusky. But, for the most part we do not have crazy fighting sharks. However, we still use an EXW 30 and a 80W reel. People that fish near us look at us like we're insane because yeah we could easily catch these sharks on gear much smaller. But, our goal is to get that fish in as fast as possible to prevent death, or injury to that fish. We get satisfied when that shark swims off, the last thing we want is to have a dead shark on our beaches.
CIRCLE HOOKS!! Invest in circle hooks. Get used to catching fish with these because while you may be able to get that running man hookset with a J hook, you are 99% going to gut hook that fish. By using a circle hook you are ensuring safety to the fish. You will almost every time hook that fish right in the corner of the mouth for easy removal.
KEEP THE SHARK IN THE WASH!! Keep that shark in the water as best as you can. Sharks do not have rib cages, they can be crushed by their own weight when taken onto land. “But, how will we get a good picture than?” Do what we do! Have someone put their camera on video mode. You can get a sick video of the catch and you can take .2 seconds to pose and still get that shark swimming off. Then when the shark is released, you can go back to your video and screen shot all the cool shots you filmed.
MINIMIZE OUT OF WATER TIME!! We tend to have our shark out for no longer than 1 minute. Trust us, that feels like 0 time when you are dragging the shark into the wash, dehooking and trying to get a good photo. But it is ESSENTIAL to the survival of the shark. Most sharks need to be moving in order to breathe. So yes, the shark may be in the water still but it isn’t breathing. By giving that shark a quick release you are making sure that shark is able to swim off strong. You do not want to have to try to revive a huge shark, you will feel terrible, and god forbid you cannot revive it, then how are you going to dispose of that massive fish without drawing any attention?
CLEAN UP YOUR TRASH!! Please leave the beach how it was when you got there. Do not leave bait, old fishing gear (line, hooks, swivels, crimps), plastic bags, food. We need to keep our beaches clean. This is just one more reason that people may want to get rid of land based shark fishing. No one wants to get onto a beach and see a bunch of trash left from fisherman. Be respectful and follow a carry in/carry out rule.
BE INFORMATIVE!! We have people come up to us on the beach every time we go out fishing. When they see our gear and hear the word “shark” their mouths drop. “Sharks here? Not in my ocean.” “What do you do when you get the shark in?” “Do you eat them?” We hear it all. One time, Bryanna was reeling in a sand tiger shark and the second we de-hooked it, a lady ran over and dragged the shark into the water. Obviously we were upset because it was Bryanna’s first shark all by herself, and most people may have said something. However, we did not want to make a scene over a fish. Yeah, it was a sucky situation but the shark was going to go back in the water anyway. The best thing you can do when people ask, is give them real information. We have met some amazing people along the way, and we continue to do so. We have talked to animal activists, national geographic researchers, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and children all about our fishing and almost every time the people are really intrigued by what we tell them. People will care much less about a shark being caught, if your honest and truthful. Also, a lot of people think its really cool to see when they know that shark is going to be safely released.
VOLUNTEER FOR NOAA!! While we do not tag all our sharks. It is good to join a group that does care for them. If you are unfamiliar with the NOAA tagging program, look it up! They will send you tags, and pamphlets on all different types of sharks. It will explain how to properly tag a fish, and talk about which fish you are even able to tag. These tags help with research on specific sharks and if you end up catching a tagged shark, you can send the information in and receive a free hat which is pretty cool.
These are just some tips we think can help the land based shark fishing community. The best feeling when it comes to catching sharks is the safe release of the fish. Knowing that fish swam off strong is a satisfying feeling to real sport fisherman. We want to wish everyone good luck on their search for these fish. If anyone ever needs any advice on getting into shark fishing, we would be more than happy to talk to you about what we learned over the years! Furthermore, if you want to stay up to date with The Shark Boys, follow our instagram.
-Grant and Bryanna
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