Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shark fishing has been hot on Tampa Bay

The author battles a blacktip shark from his Jackson Kayak Cuda 14 on Tampa Bay. (Photo by Steve Manning)
I've been thinking about fishing for sharks from my kayak for quite a while. It was just a thought until Vinny Caruso and I visited Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago.
A small blacktip during the fight.

We didn't plan to fish for sharks; it just happned.

We'd caught some nice flounder, snook, spotted seatrout and ladyfish when we first encountered the sharks. The toothy critters not only were hitting our MirrOlure Lil Johns on light jig heads, but also intercepting our hooked ladyfish.

So that got the proverbial lightbulbs burning in our heads.

We planned to purposely fish for sharks the next time we visited the bay.

I read up on shark fishing in Tampa Bay and found out it's one of the top bodies of water in the world in which to shark fish. You'll most likely encounter blacktip sharks, bull sharks, bonnethead sharks and maybe even a hammerhead. And there are some lesser-known species in the bay.

We encountered bulls and blacktips. And that was plenty of fun.
The battle in nearly  at end.

The next time I visited the bay, I tried shark fishing for about 45 minutes. I hooked three sharks on live pinfish and landed two. Both were blacktips. One was about 15 pounds. The other I estimated at 30.

When Vinny and I fished the bay a few days later, I hooked a much larger shark, but lost it after it peeled off about 150 yards of line.

We hooked five sharks, but landed just one. Vinny landed a 20 pound blacktip on light tackle. He used half a ladyfish.

That trip resulted in slower action. The only thing I can figure is that tide wasn't quite right. Our best results have taken place on a strong incoming tide. The action slows on the outgoing.

For shark fishing, you'll needed a rod and reel capable of handling these toothy critters. Since there are sharks that will reach six feet in length or more, I use a 7-foot Redbone rod with a Shimano TLD 20 conventional reel. I use 30-pound PowerPro braided line, 60-pound wire leader and a 7-0 circle hook.

When the action is going on, it usually doesn't take long to hook up.

Because I have detachable anchors on my kayaks, it's best to release the anchor when you hook a shark. That way, you can go on a "sleighride." The sharks will actually tow your kayak around the bay.

Since we don't plan to kill sharks, we carry wire cutters and cut the leader near the hook once we get the sharks to the boat. That way, the shark can swim off no worse for the wear.

Our top bait is a live ladyfish. Usually there are plenty out there and they're easy to catch on light tackle.

If the ladyfish is too big, you can simply cut it in half and toss it out.

Pinfish and grunts also work well.

I haven't done any chumming, yet. But that might change if the going gets tough.

As far as I can tell, shark fishing remains strong during the warmer months. And in Florida, that's May through September.

It will be a while before I started offering shark charters. I want to know the ins and outs of the sport. I want to give clients the ultimate shark experience. I plan to iron out all the kinks before hand.

If you're into shark fishing, keep it in mind. Let me know and we can book a shark trip for next summer.

No doubt it will be an outing that you'll never forget!

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