Author: Ryan Carson
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In honor of the 30th year of Shark Week I thought it would be helpful to talk a little about shark fishing. To start off the number one rule you need to remember is the ocean is the sharks home not yours and with that said they have the home field advantage. We have all seen numerous times a video of someone (normally a googan) wading waste deep in water to grab a hooked shark and is shocked when they get bit.
To start off let’s talk about Prohibited Sharks in NJ to start. Catching any of the below sharks might seem like a great fish story which it will be and getting pictures is tempting but you need to do everything in your power to make sure they are released with no harm and as quickly as possible. (If you’re going to take pictures do it quickly so you can release the shark.) Once you realize you have a shark that you are planning on releasing try to keep it in the water or at very least on the wet sand. DO NOT DRAG IT UP ONTO DRY SAND.
The below list of sharks are illegal to keep in NJ and must be released as quickly as possible.
Atlantic angel, basking, bigeye sand tiger, bigeye sixgill, bigeye thresher, bignose, Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, dusky, Galapagos, longfin mako, narrowtooth, night, sandbar, sand tiger, sevengill, silky, sixgill, smalltail, whale and white sharks.
See the Shark Identification card link from NJ Fish and Games Saltwater Regulations
Now if you are planning on keeping one of the sharks that are allowed to be harvested in NJ there are some steps you need to take. One make sure you know the rules and regulations. This is extremely important that you know the size and bag limit to sustain a healthy shark population. If you aren’t planning on eating the shark please release it. There is no reason to kill a shark just to kill it.
Going Sharking for a Meal.
If you are out looking to catch a shark to eat there is a couple things you should do and remember to best preserve the meat.
1.) Have the proper gear- the longer you fight a shark the more exhausted the shark will get. With that there is more lactic acid and carbon dioxide in the blood and muscles — all of which can affect the taste of the meat. You’ll want to reel in the shark as fast as possible to ensure it isn’t in an exhausted and deteriorated state by the time it hits your boat or the beach. So having the proper gear is key. (This also goes for any type of fishing. You want to be able to release the fish as soon as possible or get it off the hook and bleed if you are keeping the fish.) It might be possible to catch a keeper shark on a light rod (like a fluke rod) but it’s going to take you a lot longer because it isn’t the proper gear for shark fishing)
2.) Preserving the meat- The most important thing to do once you’ve landed a shark you plan on keeping is to bleed it, gut it and clean it as soon as possible. As most sharks deteriorate the urea in their blood immediately begins to break down into ammonia which then gets absorbed in the flesh and expelled through the skin of the animal. In other words, sharks urinate through their skin
3.) Get it on ice as soon as possible. Depending on your situation you might not have a cooler or fish chest big enough to hold the shark. A way I combat this is having a large tarp. What you can do is lay the shark on top of the tarp stuff the sharks cavity with as much ice as you can and stuff ice around the rest of the shark to keep the meat as cold as possible.
Below are the list provided by NJ Saltwater Regulations of sharks that can be kept. Remember each group may have different size requirements, amount that may be kept or require special permits to keep.
(Authorized Species): Aggregate Large Coastal Shark—blacktip, bull, lemon, nurse, tiger, spinner;
Hammerhead Shark—scalloped hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, great hammerhead;
Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Shark—Atlantic sharpnose, bonnethead, finetooth; Blacknose Shark—blacknose;
Pelagic Shark—Shortfin mako, blue, porbeagle, oceanic whitetip and common thresher
Below is a picture of a Dusky Shark my buddy Corey Jones recently caught and safely released.
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