I once ended up in the water with a massive 650lb, very angry Mako shark. I had just harpooned it when the fishing line caught on the boat's trim. I had to free the line before it broke off, so I climbed out of the boat onto a small running board at the water line. Once the line was free, I found myself unable to grab onto anything to pull myself back into the boat because I had put on big gloves to lead the beast boat side. I was forced to let go of the boat and swim for the tuna door while the buoys from the harpoon line bobbed next to me. Yes, I was scared!
What makes Shark fishing in Fort Lauderdale so exhilarating?
Sharks are ferocious animals, being the top predators of the ocean's food chain. Tiger sharks in particular are notorious man eaters and their power is absolutely unmistakable once hooked. Not only are sharks enormous and have razor sharp teeth, they are incredibly fast and powerful. Fishing for them at night offers a whole new level of exhilaration. Your other senses are heightened when vision is limited. Before you actually see how gigantic it is, you will hear the sound of a huge shark thrashing about and never forget it.
What do Sharks look like?
You will recognise these monsters by their teeth, which often jut right out of their mouths because their jaws are dislocated from their heads. Tiger sharks, for example, have massive mouths equipped with crushing jaws used for biting prey into pieces. Sharks have a leathery skin as opposed to scales and carry enormous dorsal fins and forked tails.
How big are Sharks?
They are simply gigantic and can easily weigh as much as a ton, if not more. We usually catch Thresher sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, Mako sharks and Bull sharks in excess of 500lbs; but Tiger sharks can grow up to fifteen feet in length and weigh more than 1 500lbs.
Where do you find Sharks in Fort Lauderdale?
All kinds of sharks can be caught anywhere between 100ft and 500ft of water. For some reason, 350ft seems to be the magic depth and we catch all varieties there. Bull sharks come very close to shore and will even swim inland, while Tiger sharks are found in both shallow waters and extreme depths - from just outside the surf and into the open ocean.
What baits are used for Sharks?
These incredible creatures have an amazing sense of smell and poor eyesight. We do not do anything to make the bait look more attractive because it does not help. We rely on bodily fluids such as blood to attract sharks instead; so we cut big bloody baits such as Bonita and Kingfish. Tiger sharks will eat just about anything; including their favorite prey such as Atlantic turtles and seagulls resting on the ocean's surface.
What tackle is used to catch Sharks?
You never know how big the shark will be before catching it and they get enormous. If we are using light tackle then we use a minimum of 50lb test, but 100lb test is mandatory when dealing with Tiger sharks and we use big leaders and hooks. All equipment has to be of good quality and very sturdy or it will be overpowered, snapped and broken.
What methods are used to catch Sharks?
We always look for places where warm water meets cold water such as at the edge of the continental drift. There are always fish swimming there and sharks feeding on them. We catch bait fish while chumming for sharks because the smell attracts them from miles away. Fresh bait fish are rigged to swim unnaturally and huge chunks of cut fish are baited with hooks before being thrown into the chum line.
What are the regulations for Shark fishing in Fort Lauderdale?
Almost every shark species is protected off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, so we strictly practice catch and release.
Do you have a favorite recipe for Shark?
Sharks command the utmost respect and their numbers are declining because they mature slowly, produce few offspring and suffer overfishing. We always release them safely and do not consider them for dinner.