The Poseidon crew just made it back from out first full blown land based sharking trip and man did we have fun! This past year I've learned all about land based shark fishing and have become addicted to the idea ever since. My dad, two brothers and I headed down to the panhandle last Saturday from Wisconsin. After driving all night we got to the beach and setup around 5PM. It didn't take long and we had sharks smashing our baits. We picked up some fresh horse mullet at a fish shop in town and the sharks were all over it. First to go was the Penn 6/0 with what I believe to be a Hammer Head as I've never witnessed a reel dump line so quickly...we're talking 300yds at light speed under full drag!
I battled back and forth for over a 1/2 hour before the hook pulled. Very disappointing but it was a start. The Mustad 20/0 circle was actually bent open when I reeled the rig in, I still can't believe how that size hook opened up under only 20#s or so of drag. Next to go was the Diawa 900, and my Dad fought that shark all the way into the surf before the hook pulled on what I believe was a nice Bull shark.
So we were having action just not quite finishing the deal. Not long after we got the Diawa 900 back out it took off again! This time my brother Chris grabbed the rod and wrestled in a 8' 7" Nurse shark. Wow what a fish, and she was sure unhappy with us as we were trying to unhook and release her.
After a long day of travel we were beat and called it a success getting our first shark of the trip on the sand. Sunday started with torrential rain and thus started the rain theme through Tuesday. Never the less we still made it out in between storms. Here is an action shot of bait deployment. As the baits we are using are anywhere from 1-10#'s there is simply no way to cast them. So to get baits out we use a kayak to paddle 100-300yds off the beach and drop the bait.
Pictures never do waves justice, but getting a kayak though rough surf can be quite the chore!
Sunday starting about 5PM the sharks started snapping and we landed two nice 5.5ft Blacktips and another big nurse over 7ft. First was a Blacktip on a Bonita Head.
Next was my Dad's first shark a big Nurse Shark on a whole mullet.
Last was another blacktip, this one on a whole Hardhead Cat and my brother Matt's first shark!
Monday dawned with more rain and wind, forcing us to stay in until 5PM. Around 5 there was a small break in the weather and we decided to give it a go. Glad we did! Even though the water had turned into chocolate milk the sharks were still there. Two more nurse sharks fell victim to the smell of fresh Bonito!
Tuesday was our slowest day by far, the wind had the surf roiled up and you couldn't see more then a foot or two into the water. All we caught Tuesday night was a Sharpnose.
Wednesday we decided to break the week up and rented a 22ft center counsel boat for a do it your self adventure. Once on the boat we headed out into the gulf. We caught plenty of undersized Amberjacks, an Almaco Jack, Yellow Jack, and a nice Gag Grouper. All fell victim to sleek lead jigs ripped through the water column at high speed.
This jigging method called "speed jigging" is more than addictive and lets you go toe to toe with some awesome game fish. While we were speed jigging someone was also working a bait rod on the bottom which produced plenty of delicious Vermillion Snapper and White Grunts (at least the ones we could sneak past the dolphins and Barracudas.) Besides bottom fishing we decided to troll for a short period and were rewarded with a nice King Mackerel which tasted fantastic smoked.
All and all a fun day for a bunch of saltwater rookies and some good eats for the grill!
Thursday it was back to the beach and the weather was beautiful for a change. The surf started to clear which kept the sharks uninterested during the day but the bluefish and Ladyfish sure kept us busy. What a blast! The Bluefish made great eating and also proved to be choice shark baits.
Besides the Bluefish and Ladyfish we caught a cool looking Gaffstop Catfish, Hardhead Catfish, Croakers and Leather Jacks. The ocean never ceases to amaze with the incredible variety.
We had some action as well on the smaller Sharpnose Sharks. Which were a ball to catch on surf rods! They are as fun as any of the larger sharks because of the light tackle we were using.
While having fun with the Sharpnose's we also hooked into a daytime Blacktip which put on a great fight for us.
We also tagged this lucky little shark with one of our two NMFS Shark tags. It's a cooperative program that we are participating in though NOAA. Thursday night we really struggled with the big rods, more runs than I care to share with only one more Blacktip put on the sand.
Friday the surf had cleared even more. With bright conditions it was fairly slow all day long until the Diawa 900 rigged with a half of the Yellow Jack took off on a run at about 4PM. Right away we new this was a bigger shark! An hour later we had a 10ft 9" Nurse Shark on the sand, I have no idea how much this beast weighed but holy crap this thing looked like a sea creature and put up a great fight. We tagged the shark and sent it back on it's way.
Getting this ticked off Nurse shark over the sandbars was NO easy task!
Not long after releasing that big mama nurse the Penn 6/0 rigged with a fresh blue fish took off and another 9+ft Nurse Shark landed on the sand.
That was the last shark of the trip as a thunderstorm was rapidly closing in on us. All and all for our first sharking trip I'm very satisfied!!! I wish we would have caught a Bull, Hammer or Tiger, but the size of the Nurse Sharks was ridiculous, and there is always next time!