This past Saturday night, Shark Hookers headed out on what was deemed our last "official" trip of this season. I'm sure we'll be out again in 2012, but obviously the prime time has come and gone. We set out to our spot an hour before sunset with high hopes for big success. We had all three rods/reels ready for action, mullet for bait, and a group of 10-15 people.
As we were setting up, we saw a fisherman down the beach bring in a small sting ray on a handheld line. We walked down to see if we could snag it for bait, and that's when we discovered that he had actually snagged/beached a baby spotted eagle ray. He was going to cut the line and let it swim off with a small hook/leader in its wing, but we stopped him so we could get the hook out and give the little guy a better chance of not getting caught on anything on the bottom.
It felt great to see him swim off and he even leaped out of the water for us. At that point, we were hoping the fishing gods would reward us with good karma. So we deployed our baits at sunset, and sat patiently as the clouds began to roll in.
Then the 12/0 got a steady, yet slower run on it. Baden hooked the fish and the fight was on. It did run a bit, but not like we expected a shark to. Then something happened that has rarely ever happened, Baden (the muscle of the team) was beginning to struggle bringing the fish in during a prolonged fight, saying it was pretty heavy and almost like dead weight at times. He got plenty of head shakes, too, so we're thinking a big bull.
It gets closer, and when we put the spotlight on the water to find the dorsal fin, we see the spiked dorsal breach the surface. Sure enough, it was Shark Hookers' third career Goliath Grouper.
What an ugly fish. We brought him in close to shore, but still in enough water that he was buoyant and not laying on his own body weight. He swam off perfectly fine. Hard to gauge how big he was, anybody have any guesstimates?
This was the next "catch" after the grouper . . .
Safe to say, it was the catch of the night! I was just impressed he was able to swallow bait that seemed to be bigger than him, so we let him swim off to harass some other shark fishermen.
After that, the weather started getting a little nastier. The light rain began and wind picked up, and we could see streak lightning in the distance. It became a bit cooler, just adding to the nastiness. Thunder threatened a big storm headed in our direction. Most of our group left, except the troupers who always stick it out. At that point, I knew everyone was waiting on me to finally call it a night. I kind of felt bad for keeping everyone out there while I sat defiantly in my chair with my arms crossed, and after 15-20 minutes of it getting nastier and nastier, I finally called it quits. I took the two mullet we had left and flung them into the water . . . and of course, about 20 seconds after I did, a reel goes off . . . followed by another reel. I was excited until I realized I had just thrown the rest of our bait into the water! So what did I do? Waded out deep to go find/retrieve it with the spotlight!
This was the first shark we landed, reeled in by me.
Now you know we HAD to stay out there through the rain! The lightning/thunder stayed relatively distant, but still close enough to cause some nerves. Shortly after the first lemon, we hooked into another shark and let Colleen reel in her first ever shark with Shark Hookers. Another nice, albeit MEAN, lemon shark! We gave her the hook as a souvenir and congrats for a job very well done.
The last run/catch of the night/season was this black-tip shark, successfully landed by Brian.
All rays, fish, and shark were successfully released back into the water to fight another day. It seemed as though the sharking gods rewarded us for our effort, as did the grouper gods . . . and unfortunately the catfish devil, as well . . . haha. I just want to take a moment and truly thank my team and everyone that came out with us this year. We caught/released more sharks this season than any of our prior. I am so proud of the success we've found as a team in this sport and take even more pride in that we do it the right way. I hope all of you have enjoyed our success just as much and find even more success for yourselves!
Thanks so much,
Shark Hookers, LLC