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Setting shark baits
It is important to understand that sharks swim and hunt at different
depths. In addition, different species of sharks prefer varying
depths. For example, most of the thresher sharks I have caught have
been hooked at more than 30 ft. below the surface. So, when considering
which baits should be closer to the boat, think about putting your
deepest baits further out than the rest. I usually work 4 baits
with normal wind.
The furthest bait is tied off the bow rail with a flatline clip,
keeping the line far out of the way, and the rod in the highest
rocket holder on that side of the boat. That bait is set down 80
ft. then a balloon or float is attached. The next is set down 60
ft., rod in the near trolling holder and line attached to the midship
cleat with a rubber band (or flatline clip). The third is set down
30 ft with the rod set in the far aft trolling holder and the line
direct to the balloon. The last line is a free bait with no balloon
set directly down, just out of site.
Your drags should be kept very loose so you can hear the clicker
start move. If you are using balloons, it's best to use different
colors for each rod. This way if there is some movement, you can
identify which line is getting hit.
The Waiting Game
In the first page of this article, I quoted an old mate of mine
comparing shark fishing to watching grass grow. Well, this is when
some people might actually agree with that comparison. I can tell
you that I've hooked up with sharks as soon as 10 minutes and have
waited as much as 8 hours before a hookup. There have even been
times when we didn't hook up with any sharks, but these are infrequent.
The average time we have spent waiting for a shark is around 2 hours.
Different types of sharks will act differently when biting a bait
AND when running when hooked up. For example, a blue shark will
normally take a bait softly and drag it for a little bit before
swallowing your hook. On the other hand, a mako will act unexpectedly.
Normally, though, a mako will hit the line with "chomps"
and can do any number of activities when hooked up. I've seen makos
jump, run right at the boat full speed, run in the opposite direction
of the boat and I've even seen them mildly come right to the boat.
If the fish fighter will be using a harness, make sure they are
attached to the boat, as well as, the rod and reel. You can do this
with a simple light rope, or safety lines are probably sold at your
offshore tackle shop. While the fight is happening, the only people
in the fish fighting area should be the mate and the person fighting
the shark. The Captain is at the helm and everyone else should stay
out of the way!
Bringing the fish to the boat
When you finally start bringing the shark to the boat, the mate's
job becomes essential. He'll want the fisherman to reel the leader
up to the end of the rod. The he will, carefully, hand wire the
shark to the boat. I can't stress enough the importance of handling
the wire leader appropriately. Remember, this is 200 lb.+ wire that
will not break if you are attached to it! When bringing wire in
by hand, you want to use the "hand over" approach. NEVER
wrap the wire around your hand. If a large mako wants to make a
run while you're pulling him in, that wire should be able to pull
right out of your hands without damage to anyone.
If you are keeping the shark, have your flying gaff and tail rope
ready and tied to a cleat. Only keep a shark if you are going to
eat it, in a tournament and it's in contention, or if it's within
range of a world record. If these conditions do not apply, get your
tag stick, tag this shark, take your pictures and cut that wire!
Please do not unnecessarily kill any shark!
That being said, have a great trip and enjoy being on the water!
I'll keep updating this article with new details, so check back
on it regularly.
Capt. Kevin Shea