Author: Patrick Meek
This time of year I really enjoy taking advantage of the warmer water because I know just beyond the first sandbar there is a fish that is pound for pound one of the strongest fighter's on light tackle...the Blacktip Shark!
Surf fishing for Blacktips is one of my all time favorite past times. Normally I fish one surf rod for sharks and another surf rod for bait. For Blacktips, I only use a small chunk of the bait about the size of a fist. I pair it with an 11/0 non stainless circle hook leaving the hook exposed as much as possible. For larger sharks, I use bigger baits and bridle the bait keeping the hook fully exposed, but for Blacktips, a small chunk of bait works just fine. For my bite leader, I use about 18" of 250 lb 49 strand cable crimped to my 11/0 circle hook. Next, I crimp roughly 6' of 500 lb Bullbuster Grander Leader material to the bite leader using a 150 lb ball bearing swivel. 500 lb leader material may seem like overkill for a Blacktip shark, but I can reuse the leader several times without worrying about frays and break offs. Before crimping the end, I add a bead and a snap swivel to attach my pyramid sinker. Finally, I will crimp my leader through another 150 lb ball bearing swivel to attach to my mainline either 50 lb or 65 lb Bullbuster braid.
If you are surf fishing the Florida Panhandle, just walk out into the water to the first sandbar and cast into the deeper water just beyond. If possible, always use fresh bait because fresh bait is the best bait. After my cast, I walk back to the beach with my rod tip aimed towards the sky to keep my mainline out of the water as much as possible. Once on the beach, I set my 12' surf rod in the sand stake and loosen the drag to no more than 7-10 lbs of pressure. It doesn't usually take too long before my surf rod is bending over. Using such a small bait, I will let the shark run for about 5-6 seconds and then tighten the drag just enough to sink the circle hook into the side of the sharks mouth. Once the Blacktip is hooked up, expect to see the shark jump and spin out of the water and be prepared to enjoy a fun heavy fight especially on spinning gear.
Another fun activity that we've made a family tradition each summer is Scalloping. Each year when the season opens, my wife and I head to Cape San Blas, FL and enjoy the "Under Water Easter Egg Hunt" in St. Joseph Bay, FL searching for Florida Bay Scallops. This year, the season opened up on August 16th for the St. Joseph Bay (Gulf County, FL) area and will run until September 24th. We traded in our surf rods and hooks for a snorkel and mask. Finding these delicious creatures are fun for the whole family and this year didn't disappoint.
For more information click on the link "How to Catch Bay Scallops" where I give a detailed lesson and rules for finding these tasty saltwater mollusks.
Until next time...
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