This week on my calendar is marked with a hammerhead. I never for a second thought this would actually become a reality. Friday evening we set out with one thing in mind. Searching for a spring time hammerhead. In the 4 years we have been shark fishing we had yet to catch our own. The tides seemed just right and Andrew hurried to get baits in the water. No more than 45 mins later Andrew was hooked up and the drag was screaming! The fight was short lived though. 10 mins in this fish swam in between a few boats and was broken off. We all suspected what kind of shark this was but didn’t say anything. Awhile later I walked to the truck to gather new supplies to set back out and came across some guys who were watching us when we hooked up. ” Its a shame you lost that big hammer” I explained that we never actually got to see the fish but before I could finish my sentence he interrupted with ” oh I saw him, we’ve been watching with binoculars, he surfaced between two boats I could see your yellow line clearly” We put baits back out and stayed until around 11pm with zero bites the rest of the evening.
Saturday we knew that we had to try again. They are here and we knew what they were eating so why not head out for a few hours and attempt this one more time. Sting ray and barracuda from the freezer and we were on the way. Same scene different day when we arrived. With in the first 25 mins of having baits in the water we lost a sizable fish who spit our bait out without being hooked. Andrew quickly redeployed this worn out once bitten bait and hoped for the best. I walked over and was sitting near the black 80w when I noticed it moving very slowly, not even enough to pull drag. Something was down there playing with the bait, all of a sudden, very slowly this fish took drag. We were going to let this one eat a bit! Letting her run while the rod was still in the pipe while Andrew harnessed in.
This was fast we knew right away it was a shark. This fish ran straight out 5-600 yards of line on the first run. Then all of a sudden nothing but slack line. At one point Andrew actually unharnessed and put his rod in the pipe, assuming that once again the fish was off. I knew something was still there, even though the line wasn’t tight it was raised up out of the water. I’ve never seen this before so I just kept reeling in the pipe until all of a sudden there she was! Weight back on the line. I yelled down the beach and Andrew quickly got back into his harness to fight this fish. By this time its dark, my head lamp is in the car so I grab the spot light to run down the beach as this fish is headed for other peoples fishing lines. Over, under and side to side we guided Andrew around the tangled mess of gear this hammer made. Cutting my 80w off completely and loosing a hook section out of the leader on another line.
The next thing I know there was the knot at the leader! The next image I saw will be burned into my memory forever. I focused into the dark water and tried to locate this fish, 30 yards out in the top of the water colum but not yet breaking the surface. It honestly looked like a HUGE lemon shark due to its dorsal being cut by a boat propeller. I saw her tail and realized that finally, this was a hammerhead! We’ve caught countless sharks but have never landed a hammer. This fish wasn’t done yet and ran another 200 yards. A total fight time of 45 mins until she was out a few yards off the beach where she stayed. I tried my best to pull on the leader and assist Andrew in getting her close enough to de-hook but I was not strong enough. Tug of war with a 800-1000lb fish. Luckily by this time we gathered a crowed. I asked two guys if they would assist us in pulling this shark the rest of the way in so I could tail rope.
As I entered the water and began to tail rope this shark, out of the darkness comes our old team mate from Big Hammer Challenges Nino! Ive never been so happy to see him in my life. He has extensive experience handling sharks especially hammers. He was fishing on another local beach tonight. I had text messaged him at the very beginning of this fight telling him that we were hooked up! I didn’t realize the massive size of this shark until my 5’5 self was standing next to it. I think I threw the tail rope at him and replied with “help with anything” He got it around the top of her tail and it took all my strength to lift the bottom of her tail up to secure the rope.
Andrew grabbed the tape measure as we tagged her for NOAA Cooperative Shark Tagging Program. Nino yelled the measurement total length at at 13’7. WOW. I assumed this fish was over 10 feet, but I never expected it to be over 13 feet. Andrew de-hooked her as pictured above. We don’t promote doing this with your hands but the de-hooker was not working in this particular hook position. The rest is really a blur as I tried my best to get Andrew a few quick pics before her release while still recording on the go pro! Andrew and Nino began to walk her out into deeper water. Brandon held her hammer off the sand so it wouldn’t drag along the bottom and tear up her face. It was obvious pretty quickly, as this shark came back towards our feet that she was ready to go. We walked along with her down the beach and gave her dorsal a strong push. She kicked her tail and swam off into the depths of the gulf.
Thank you to EVERYONE who was down at the beach that assisted with our catch. We had people taking pics , holding tail ropes & de-hookers. Especially the other anglers who had to reel up as she charged down the beach like a freight train destroying any and all tackle in her path. I couldn’t of asked for a better group of people to be fishing with. Every one was kind and helpful. This was a fish of a lifetime. The chain of events that lead up to this was crazy. I learned so much assisting Andrew with catching this fish. I hope for a recapture on her one day, I would love to see where she travels from here.
I think today is about relaxing, a good day to put a bait on the rod the rod in the holder, and just kick back and enjoy the simple pleasure of being by the water, and every once in a while wake up long enough to play with a fish. I would not tie the line to your toe, to wake you up when you got a bite, if you are fishing the Harbor. If you do swimming would be a nice way to cool off,
Today I wish I was in the Gulf, out about 35 miles, There is so many fish, from Red grouper, Snappers grunts, Amber jacks, King Mackerel, sharks, what ever you could wish for, Plus it is quiet clam & peaceful. Just to stand there and watch a bait drop 60 feet before you lose sight of it. Seeing the first color of a fish on the line. Yes that is what I wish for today, I hope you can make it happen for you. I will just have to day dream. and wait for another day.
By MATT STEVENS
Man on the Pier
Well, whatever we were all waiting for seems to have shown up on our doorstep this week. No, not spring. Spring fishing.
As anglers sometimes I think we forget the fishing we wait all year for doesn’t just magically appear overnight. But once March comes around and we have a couple of 80 degree days everyone starts champing at the bit. Let’s not forget this: Mother Nature runs on her own schedule and the fish follow suit.
The talk around town lately has been “we’re about a month behind where we should be” and “there’s no white bait in the Harbor.”
While white bait has been a little scarce so far, I think it’s our impatience as anglers that leads us to believe we’re behind schedule fishing-wise. However, the signs that “it’s on” I saw around upper Charlotte Harbor the past two days point directly to the fishing we’ve all been waiting for.
Cobia and shark season is in full swing, and the tarpon fishing is steadily heating up. And I know that not only because of the fish that have been caught this week but by the other occurrences this time of year that come with it. One of the things I love about fishing on the U.S. 41 bridge overlooking the Harbor is the vantage point. Recently I’ve seen sea turtles, spotted eagle rays – among legions of both cownose and stingrays – white butterflies (can you say tarpon?) and yes, some silver kings rolling around the bridge.
Sure, maybe the white bait could be more abundant. But there are plenty of whiting, sand trout, skip jacks, jack crevalle, etc. And the mullet are thick. So quit complaining and start enjoying the fishing. It’s pretty darn good.
Until next time, hook ’em up and fight ’em hard.
Weds evening we set out with a group of people visiting from NJ. They were hoping to hook up on a shark or
goliath grouper for the first time ever! As they arrived we were doing our normal set up routine. Unloading all the supplies we carry down to the beach. Kayak, harnesses, paddle, 3ft pvc rod holders , 3 larger avet reels , 4 spinning set ups , tagging & dehooking equipment, go pro, snacks, chairs, cooler and bait. This is what everyone takes fishing right? Andrew was out in the kayak dropping the first bait when our clients explained they were going to head to dinner real quick and would be back in 30 mins. This concerned me, bait in the water and prime shark time, something could come along while they are at dinner. As slow as its been out there in this location, we just decided to leave it in the water.
Of course everyone could guess what happened next. The ONLY bait out gets slammed. I was just speaking to Andrew earlier in the day about how the smaller sharks really havent given us really great runs this year. This was the first fish of the year to pull serious drag taking about 400 yards of line from the 80w before I could get her stopped. I was able to gain 200 yards back pretty quickly, but this shark wasnt just coming in like the sandbar sharks would this winter. As much line as I gained she took right back, I could feel that whatever was on my line was pretty heavy. At one point we had concern it was the HUGE sea turtle that was hanging around Andrew while he dropped baits. About 20 mins into the fight I started to realize we were on a stand off and this was very familar to my last large bull shark about two years ago. Then I started to feel the head shakes. I was almost 100% sure this was a big spring time pregnant bull shark.
At the 30 min mark we had her at the leader before she took off again taking 75-100 yards back out into the depths. I was pretty tired at this point so I sent Andrew in to hand line her the rest of the way. This shark felt as if she was staying a few inches off the bottom fighting the whole way in. They really dislike the feeling of the sand bar on their belly! We finally got her in the shallows and wow was she a girthy fish. Female and pregnant. We measured her at 8 feet 4 inches, I did not take a girth measurement due to time factor. As soon as we saw her size we knew she needed to be released as fast as possible!
The crowd at Boca Grande really helped today! It was super of them to assist with pics so we could focus on getting her and tagged and ready for release as fast as possible. I like to keep my feet behind the peck fins while dehooking, it just makes me more comfortable and I am able to move away faster. Not with this big girl, she was so large that I could not reach her nose in my normal position! Special thanks to the guy who held our leader during dehooking! I had to use both hands and all the strength I had left to lift her mouth open so Andrew could successfully dehook her.
A beautiful bull and my longest shark battle to date on my 80w! I might be respooling next week due to the heavy abrasion on the first 100 yards of my line. This was the first fish I caught using my new custom Barrett Rod and I really loved it! Bullsharks are one of my favorite species even in their smaller sizes they are just a power house of energy! A lot of fun for the angler and I can say a few days later im still feeling the power of this shark in my aching muscles. I look forward to a possible recapture of her in the future. FULL video of this catch will be on http://fishintube.com later today!
Yes I am going to call Cape Haze for the most different types of Fish right now, Sharks, Trout, Snapper, Snook, Reds, from the beach out to #5 cape haze is holding lots of Fish I almost forgot Cobia, If I was going from land or Pier it would be either Placida or Tom Adams
The red are hitting Shrimp or Cut bait, it does not have to be big baits try a pink Rock port for best results. Good luck have fun.
Caught Pea cock Bass,, Oscars and wapultai , and Large mouth Bass,
IF you really want to do something different or ever wanted to go to South America & Fish, Just hire Capt, Josh, it is $500.oo and I promise you best fishing VA-CA , stay-ca Ever.
This was so different than what we do here, fun interesting exciting. all good words for this trip. I recommend this 100% if you do not fish and want to see and do a unreal day of watching fish birds and animals spend the $500 you won’t be sorry,
Don’t expect monster fish, although possible, and this is a Catch & release trip, But as I said, just a truly great day.
This is my pick for the get away fishing adventure.
Thank you Josh, Dad & I had a great time.
Frank aka Fishin Frank, both Sr. & me
The talk of the morning is Shark, Capt. Calye is off on a Shark trip, the last 6 people going out all with chum and shark bait, ladyfish & mullet, It seems the Sharks have really moved in, the holes out in the Harbor have quite a few, and down by marker #5 out to the pass has larger Sharks. The 41 bridge is a 4 on the shark-o-meter. with the holes being about a 7, off the beaches on the Islands an 8
so if you are a shark fisher it would seem this is your time.
I was asked how to keep shrimp alive, and why it is so hard to do. My response was.
Shrimp are a problem, what ever shrimp, I have left at the end of the day each and every day I will lose 10% to 50% over night.
There is no magic anything when it comes to keep ing them alive. shrimp get dragged up in a net being pulled by a boat dumped on a sorting table, push into a live well,
Then are netted u…p and put into a tank on a truck, then hauled to the bait shop, then picked and put into your bucket,
So the truth is they are really tough just to survive that. and the change of water alone would kill most creatures
different water from the boat to the truck and the truck to the bait shop tanks.
Often Shrimp will live several days in a bucket in the canal, if it is not too hot or too fresh because of rain.
The best way to keep them is in a bucket with holes on the sides to allow new water in, and about 2 feet below the surface.
the water is cooler and saltier there.
We do sell a bucket like this I believe is about $12.00 two piece, it works pretty good and last a long time.
I hope this helps, you understand the problems with keeping shrimp alive.
Well the Snook are hitting cut bait, best place to find them is on the inside of the barrier Islands under the docks. Let the bait sit. give the Snook time to want it. The only problem is you have to get past the Grouper to catch your Snook, not a bad problem, as problems go.