LAND BASED SHARK FISHING: QUEST FOR ADRENALINE
I love saltwater fishing, specifically surf fishing. Last summer, July 2014, my old man and I went on a 5-day surf fishing trip to the Freeport, TX area. We fished Quintana Beach (AKA Bryan Beach), Surfside Beach, and even went down to San Luis Pass. The seaweed was horrible, I couldn’t keep a line in the surf without pulling back loads of that brown crap. We were able to wade to the first sandbar and when we fished from there, the seaweed wasn’t that bad. When saltwater fishing I like soaking big baits and using rod holders, and then kicking back, soaking up some sun and sipping some hoppy suds. Standing at the first sand bar wade fishing with live shrimp is good for a morning trip, but I wasn’t going to do that all week. I needed some relaxation medication. Eventually, we were able to find some cuts, and depending on the tide, we were able to fish without struggling with the seaweed. We were finally able to bust out the fishing pole holders and icy brews. I’m a big fish hunter, so I fish big baits, and my favorite bait is large mullet just big enough to keep the little fish away, but small enough so that a bull redfish can inhale it. Shrimp is an excellent bait, and I’ve caught many large fish with it. The problem with shrimp is that little fish can steal it quickly, and it can become a lot of work keeping your hook baited. I like fishing larger baits because it enables me to kick back, relax, and wait for the rod to double over.
During this saltwater fishing trip is when I first tried my hand at land based shark fishing. I have been looking for a renewed adrenaline rush, and after watching some YouTube videos I figured that land based sharking was the ticket. Additionally, over the years, while saltwater fishing, I’ve randomly caught sharks about 3ft in length and they’ve always put up an enjoyable fight. Before the July 2014 trip there was minimal “shark” preparation, and I just used my usual surf fishing reels and saltwater fishing gear, Abu Garcia 7000s and 6500s. In order to give myself a fighting chance, in case I did hook something big, I backed the Abu Garcia 7000s with 300 yards of 30lb braided fishing line, and finished them off with a 50lb monofilament topshot. Additionally, I paired the Abu Garcia 7000s with 12ft Okuma Solaris surf rods rated at 40lbs (enough to handle max drag). I really like the Solaris fishing poles and get good distance with my casts. I use casted bottom rigs using spider weights to make sure the rigs hold in the surf. The hook trace is steel leader. The pre-made leaders that you can find at your local bait and tackle shop or saltwater fishing gear store are okay, but if you make your own leaders it’s so much better.
Usually when I surf fish, I’ll wade out to the first or second sandbar, and I will cast my baited rig as far as I can. With the fishing reel in free-spool I’ll walk back to the shore, tighten the slack and then throw the rod in the holder. Well, shark fishing requires bigger baits, but because they’re bigger they’re also harder to cast. Additionally, reaching deeper water is recommended to increase the chances of a bigger shark. In Texas the prime deep water is usually out of casting range. From what I’ve seen, using a kayak is the deployment method of choice; paddle beyond the breakers and drop the baited rig in deeper water. I had a little 10ft Heritage Angler Kayak that I had purchased at Academy sports and outdoors. I did some kayak fishing in lakes, and even though it was cheap, it was a good little kayak. I hadn’t used it for saltwater fishing yet.
Well, we found a good area of the beach that didn’t have any seaweed, so I decided this was the spot to break out the kayak and try to get a big bait out. Remember, I like using baits that I can leave soaking until the targeted fish picks it up. I don’t like constantly having to reel in and check baits, and then find that little fish have picked it clean. From my research sting ray seemed to be the bait that sharks loved, but that other fish would leave alone. This was the bait that I kayaked out. In the area of the beach where we were setup the water was beautiful. It was a deep green, but lighter than usual and almost aqua. The swells were pretty big and the wind was blowing pretty hard too. It was work paddling out, and after I dropped the bait and returned to shore I was exhausted. Not to mention that little 10ft heritage angler kayak was very unstable and uncomfortable in the ocean. I was too tired to do that again, so for the second rig I hooked on half a horse mullet, waded to chest deep and casted it as far as I could. The casted horse mullet ended up resulting in the first hook up. I didn’t measure it but it turned out to be about a 4ft shark. It peeled drag, and it was really fun to catch. It gave me a nice burst of adrenaline.
The big chunk of sting ray had been soaking for a little while. I was at the truck baiting one of my smaller rigs in order to try my chances for a speckled trout or slot redfish when all of a sudden I hear my old man say, “HEY!!!!” I turned and looked and saw my 12ft Okuma rod bowed over and line was peeling from the Abu 7000. I ran to the holder, picked up the rod and leaned into a hook set. I immediately felt the power of the fish, and I’m pretty sure my eyes dilated from the adrenaline. The line was peeling off the reel, making it sing, and then all of a sudden the line went slack. I furiously reeled trying to keep the line tight, thinking that the fish had turned and started swimming toward shore, but it was gone. The hook had pulled!! Here is a video my old man filmed as I lost that fish. The agony!
During that saltwater fishing trip I did land some really good fish. They included a personal best redfish and a personal best shark. We caught lots of fish and it was a truly good time enjoying God’s creation and spending time with the old man. But losing that big fish was heartbreaking. Since then I’ve been preparing for a rematch, updating my saltwater fishing gear for war. New large capacity fishing reel, new heavy shark fishing rod and surf fishing rods, new rigs and tackle, and a better kayak. If he bites again, I guarantee I’m gonna take his picture.