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First Ever Florida Shark Fishing Report

This Florida shark fishing report was written by Elwin and Shirley Jane Sharp. They live in north Arkansas and have been married 31 years. Elwin has been a member of TSF since December 2009. After much help and advice from the members of TSF, Elwin, Shirley Jane and good friends, Robert and Trisha Stafford, made their first ever shark fishing trip to Alligator Point, FL. in May 2010. Here is their story.

We left north Arkansas Friday May 7th around 2:30 pm and drove strait through to Alligator Point Florida, about 730 miles.It was me and my wife Shirley and two of our best friends, Robert and Trish. Our Chevy Trail Blazer was loaded to the gills. We had a reciever hitch luggage carrier on the back, things strapped on the roof and every space taken up inside. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillys gone fishing. The only thing missing was granny’s rocking chair on top.

We arrived at 8:30 Saturday morning, unloaded and fell into bed. Slept most of the day and then got up and put rods and reels together. No fishing Saturday. We did’t plan to shark fish until Monday. We wanted to let the weekend crowd clear. Alligator Point has a lot of houses but not many people on the beach during the week. Alligator Point is a long narrow penensula, the house we had rented, the property stretched from gulf to bay, so we had the best of both worlds. We bait fished a little Suday but caught very little.

Monday rolled around and tried again on bait and caught a small butterfly ray which I ran out on one of our 6/0s. Something stoled it in a couple of hours. By that after noon we headed into town to find some bait. We bought frozen mullet. So now Tuesday was going to be the big day. Tuesday morning we woke up to howling winds 25 to 30mph on the gulf side and seas 4 to 6 feet. Very high for the area. Raging Surf 

This was my first few days in a kayak and I wasn’t ready for this yet. We decided to fish the bay. I was hesitant about fishing that side because we had docks on both side(about a 400′ opening) and three mooring buoys in this opening also. It gave us a pretty small opening to get the fish through, but with the gulf rolling, it was our only choice if we wanted to fish.

We started bait fishing and was catching stingrays and lots of bonnet heads. About 9:00 am,we cut up the stingrays and ran out 1-6/0 wide and 1-6/0 about 800 to 1000 ft. 11:00 something picked up the 6/0 wide and made a short run. We reeled the line in and the 400 lb test mono leader had been cut off on something.

We rerigged and ran out fresh stingray. Lunch time rolled around, we decided to eat in shifts. The house was only 200′ away. Shirley and Trish ate first, then me, then Robert. While Robert was gone my 6/0 wide takes a run like I could only have dreamed of. It was screaming.

The side plate was too hot to touch. All the reading, all the studying, all the questions had come down to this moment and what do I do, I go blank. I just stand and stare at it for what seemed like minutes. I know it was only a few seconds, but it seemed like a long time.

Finally things come rushing back. I pick up the rod, put my thumb on the spool and with very little room to back up, take a few steps back to set the hook. The spool slips free under my thumb and wow was that hot. Shirley comes over and helps me with my harness. She holds the rod while I try to remember how this thing goes together. Now I’m wishing I had practiced with the harness a few more times. I finally get it on, my wife hands me the rod, I get it strapped in and the fight is on. 

Hooked Up!The fish is still taking line but has slowed down. It is just me, my wife and Trish and I’m thinking, we can do this. None of us have ever landed and shark before but, we will make it without our other team member(Robert). Well thats when things get real interesting.

The other 6/0 takes off screaming. I look at my line thinking my shark has tangled up the other line, but they are going in two different directions. That’s when it sinks in on me, WE HAVE TWO SHARKS ON. I told the girls that one of them would have to get that rod. They did not hesitate. My wife got her fighting harness out and between the two girls, got it on and adjusted for the first time. Shirley Hooked Up!

I would love to have had video of them but there wasn’t enough people to go around.

 They get the rod hooked up and her fight is on. At one point I looked over and Shirley’s was holding and Trish was craking. I’m fighting my fish and trying to coach her at the same time. Talk about the blind leading the blind. First shark ever and we have a double hookup.

After about 20 minutes I send Trish to get Robert. Lunch times over for him. We need help. Atleast our sharks go different directions. I’m fighting to keep mine away from a dock and a mooring buoy and Shirley is dodging a dock, two mooring buoys and a crab trap.

Robert arrives and starts putting on gloves to leader mine in. We get mine close to shore and I can see it is good size. Robert grabs the leader, I put the rod in the holder and go for the tail rope. By this time my wife is saying something about arms feeling like jello. Her shark has wrapped arond a mooring buoying. I told her to just keep presure on it and we would be there a fast as we could.

Robert and I went work on my shark. First we tagged it. Measured it, a 6’6″ bull shark.

Bull SharkThen start removing the hook. The 20/0 Mustard circle hook has done its job and the shark is hooked in the corner of the mouth. I make an attempt to get it out with the channel locks but no luck. I grab my bolt cutter and make two attempts to cut the hook.

Something is wrong. The hook won’t cut.

Not a good time to find out your bolt cutters are junk. I through them on the bank got out my knife and cut a little slit next to the barb and we were able to twist out the hook this time. I walk the shark out into knee deep water, it comes to life and speeds away.

It amazed me how shallow the water was when it disappeared.

Now with my shark gone and Shirley’s wrapped around the mooring buoy, I jumped in the kayak and paddle out to it. Luckly it was the 400 lb mono part of the leader that was caught on the buoy. I caught the line with my paddle and flipped it up over the buoy.  

Most of the fight was out of the fish by now. It had been on the line for 45 minutes. With some much welcomed help from Robert, Shirley gets her fish in. A 5’10″ Blacktip.

Shirley was tired but pleased and I was very proud of her.

Robert and I went to work tagging and getting the hook out.

I did learn in a split second that if a shark tail whips you on bare skin(ankle), that your skin will just come right off.

 

I walked her shark back out and off it went.

Behind us was a new house being built. By the time we got our sharks in, all 12 of the works plus some passerbys had come to the edge and was watching the action.

We got ourselves back together and ran out fresh stingray on both rods.

We had 4 6/0 but after that run we decided to just stick with the two for now. It took about an hour and Trish’s rod took off. We got her in the harness and the fight was on for her, maybe, well we are not sure. Blacktip Shark

The shark had picked up the bait, ran out and then turned and head strait for us. Robert and I thought it was off but Trish was reeling like mad and thought it was there. It got about 100′ from shore and blew up again.

Trish cranked it on in. Robert and I dragged it out of the water. A 5’4″ Blacktip. It had been a very short fight for Trish and the shark was mad and full of energy. We tagged it and went after the hook.

This hook was in the gill. Maybe thats why it came in so easy.

Trish did’t want to get very close.

We walked it back out and away it went. I really kept an eye on this one. It thrashed us on the bank and swam off in a hurry. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t turn around and come after me.

We only had one more run that afternoon and I got in a hurry and pulled the bait away from the fish trying to set the hook too early. We called it a day and what a day it had been.
Wednesday we brought all four 6/0 out and started about 8:00.

We had some leftover stingray and ran them all out. We could not catch anything for new bait. We had a couple of rods that kept going slack. We finally reeled one in to find a six or seven pound gafftop catfish on it. We ended up catching 3 gafftops about that size on a 20/0 hook. I was amazed. We had fished hard all day and the sun had cooked us. We wrapped it up.

Thursday we tried the bay again and still nothing. Around noon we moved everything over to the gulf side. The surf had calmed down and I felt safe enough to run out bait. We had went back to town Wednesday evening looking for bait. We bought more mullet, some northern mackeral, and a fish they called LYs. We ran a little of everything out.

Mid afternoon we had a line go slack. Robert reeled it in and had a 37″ blacktip. The hook had not gone past the barb, but it somehow stayed hooked long enough to reel in. We ran another round of baits out. We found a piece stingray in the ice chest that had been hiding from us and ran it out. An hour or so went by and then we get the run we were waiting for (on the stingray).

Robert suits up and I hand the rod to him. He has a good fight on his hands. It is very low tide. The first bar only has about 6 inches of water on it. He reels the shark to the first bar and it won’t go over. So I say no problem, I will go out and tail rope it on the bar and then we will drag it on in. Sounded good until I got out there.

Still would have been a good idea if our tail rope was 75′ long, but ours was about 15′ long. Just the right lenght for the shark to turn around and get me while wading through the gut. So plan B, I got the leader and pulled the shark up on the bar and to the back edge. Then I made a quick break for the shore. Robert pulled the shark off the bar and fought it on in. A 5’11″ bull shark.

We dragged it out, tagged it and removed the hook.

Things went a lot smoother on this one. Our team was starting to figure things out.
We had met our goal for the trip. We wanted everyone to catch and shark over 5′. It had been a lot of work on everyones part but we got-r-done.

We called it a day for Thursday. We stll had Friday but we spent that day packing to go home and picking up shells. We found some big ones.

For our first trip it had gone fantastic. I can’t wait to try it again. Our green team had become a real team. We had learned so much. I found out you can and need to read all you can about it, but there is no substitute for doing it.

We were sad to go but we left Saturday morning at 5:00 am and got home at 9:30 pm. A long drive.

I want to thank all the people here for the help you all have given me. I hope to be of help to someone. I can tell you things not to do. That will take up a whole post by itself. This is my first report, so hope it makes sense.

Thanks to all!

Elwin Sharp

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