Fishing Report:

The Hunt For Sharks And Bay Scallops

Author: Patrick Meek

With it being one of the hottest summers I can remember, we decided to hit the beach in the early mornings or late afternoons in search of some fresh seafood and if we got lucky a thunderstorm would roll through just to cool things off.

Late one afternoon my wife and I went out to the beach in hopes of catching a fish or two. After we finished setting up on the sand, some dark clouds rolled up on us and we were rewarded with a small summer shower to cool things off. While it had been raining, I managed to catch some fresh bait for some off the beach shark fishing. I tossed out a bloody Ladyfish head and within 15 minutes I was hooked up. “Shark on” as I watched the Blacktip from a distance start jumping and spinning from the Gulf of Mexico's surface! After a few decent drag pulling runs, I managed to land a female Blacktip, dehook, and returned her back unharmed.

With more of the fresh bait I had, I casted out another chunk of the Ladyfish and just like before, it wasn't long until I saw my custom 12' surf rod get slammed. Having the beach all to yourself in the afternoon after a thunderstorm was paying off. I tightened the loose drag enough to sink the 11/0 circle hook in the side of the sharks jaw and as pressure was applied, the Blacktip went airborne. 

As the shark was pulling the 50 lb Bullbuster braid off my reel, I could feel every movement and head shake it made. Once I was able to make some headway, the shark would continue to cut left and right and wasn't giving up easily without a battle. After about 12-15 minutes of fighting the Blacktip to the beach, I was finally able to hand my surf rod off to my wife Heather so that I could grab the 500 lb Bullbuster Grander Leader and pull the shark onshore. Blacktip sharks can be very unpredictable. Unlike the previous Blacktip I had just caught which was very calm, docile, and acted like a sweetheart, this female acted like a rabid dog full of energy and ready to bite anything that got in her way. 

After a few tail slaps to the leg and a small case of shark rash, I managed to set the shark free and sent her on her way back home. 

A few days later, Heather and I left to go on a little mini vacation to the "Forgotten Coast" of Cape San Blas, FL to take advantage of scallop season that had just opened in St. Joseph Bay in Gulf County. We traded the rods and reels for mask and snorkel in search of fresh seafood. 

The beach house we stayed in came with beach amenities that included a tandem SOT kayak, so we didn't have to bring our own or rent one on location. We launched from the state park on Cape San Blas and paddled out a little over a mile until we found a small sandy bottom in about 4' of water in the middle of thick patch of turtle grass. We anchored our kayak, set up our diver’s flag, began searching the edge of the turtle grass using our swim mask with snorkel, and soon began filling our mesh bags with fresh bay scallops. We searched the edges and swam in the middle of the turtle grass to collect a limit of bay scallops within no time. While searching underwater we were able to see starfish, sand dollars, sea horses, sea urchins, crabs, and a wide variety of fish.

After collecting our limit, we made the paddle back to the state park and put our scallops straight on ice. Once back at the beach house, Heather and I shucked scallops for a nice delicious meal for later. 

Early the next morning, we hit the beach as the sun was rising and put a few Bullbuster lines in the water. I managed a couple of nice size Pompano and a Whiting and Heather caught a nice 14" Flounder tossing a gold spoon to add to our scallops.

For anyone who hasn't visited the "Forgotten Coast" you're really doing yourself a disservice especially during bay scallop season and the fishing isn't too bad either. I hope that my wife and I will continue making this an annual destination for many years to come.

Until next time...

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